Another reason to say 'cheese' when smiling
SUMMARY: Cheese has been found to reduce cavities. Read about all of its benefits!
Posted: October 2, 2013
We've done it since we can remember. Someone's standing in front of you with a camera, gives the three-two-one and everyone says, "Cheese!" But besides making you show your teeth, cheese - the actual diary product - could help those pearly whites become more sparkling and healthier than ever.
According to a study published in in General Dentistry, eating cheese may help prevent cavities. The milk-curdled product was shown to raise levels of dental plaque pH, which defends against tooth decay.
The research monitored 68 adolescent subjects between the ages of 12 and 15. Each were given either cheddar, a glass of milk or sugar-free yogurt to eat or drink for three minutes, and afterwards rinse with water. Dentists analyzed the dental plaque pH level of their teeth before and after they consumed the dairy product.
A pH meter measures the acidity of your mouth. A pH level of 7 is neutral, while anything above is considered basic and anything below 7 is acidic. A person with a mouth pH lower than 5.5 has a dramatically increased risk for tooth erosion.
Levels of pH were taken 10, 20 and 30 minutes after the subjects finished eating.
Those who drank milk or ate yogurt had no change in dental plaque pH levels. On the other hand, the subjects who ate cheese showed a gradual rise in pH levels.
"What I think is exciting about this is it shows that cheese - particularly as a snack - can reduce the acids that will cause cavities and gum disease," said president of the Academy of General Dentistry Dr. Jeffrey M. Cole.
The dentists believe that chewing cheese stimulates saliva production, which washes down bad bacteria and stray food particles. The cheese that sticks to the teeth re-hardens surface enamel and combats acid erosion.
Cole highlights that cheese consists of pyrophosphates that are found in toothpaste and fluorides. What this does is helps re-mineralize teeth.
Thus, if you want to steer clear of nasty cavities or simply looking for a good snack, grab some cheese. Aged cheddar, Monterey Jack, blue, Swiss, Gouda, brie, processed American among others have been shown to lower tooth decay.
"In a lot of low-carb diets, string cheese is the go-to snack," Cole explained. "[Cheese] not only fits one of those diets, it's actually good for your teeth! It makes it all much better."
More on cheesy benefits
Everyone has heard that milk builds strong bones and teeth. The same is true for cheese. All products that originate from milk provide good sources of calcium, an essential nutrient in strengthening bone density. When you eat cheese, it puts a layer of calcium on the teeth. And while it may not treat cavities like a dentist can, it's a great way to avoid them! If you down a cube of cheese, you can increase your plaque-calcium concentration by up to 112 percent.
The healthiest kind of cheese
Cheese often gets bad press for being fattening, but here are a few varieties that will not only boost your oral health, but help keep the calories to a minimum.
1. Feta cheese is lower in fat and calories than most of its cheesy cousins. It is widely popular in Greek food, and is often used in a number of healthy entree options.
2. String cheese should not just be for kids' packed lunches. If you buy the stuff with part-skim mozzarella, it is high in protein and low in calories.
3. Throw a slice of Swiss on your sandwich. It comes in low-sodium and low-fat options, so be sure to check those out. Because Swiss is a hard cheese, it is richer in phosphorous as well.
Start cheesin' and bring home that cheddar.