Cereal is good for any meal - breakfast, lunch or dinner.
If you agree with the above statement then firstly, you have an admirably sophisticated palate and secondly, you are the perfect target for cavities caused by eating a diet that includes lots of carbohydrates. However, you can help increase the number of vitamins and nutrients in your diet and help reduce your risk of cavities by drinking a glass of milk afterwards.
According to a new study from the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry, washing down the remnants of your cereal with a glass of milk may reduce cavities. Researchers found that milk lowers plaque acid levels and may prevent damage to tooth enamel that can cause decay.
"Dry ready-to-eat, sugar-added cereals combine refined sugar and starch. When those carbohydrates are consumed, bacteria in the dental plaque on tooth surfaces produce acids," explains Christine Wu, professor of pediatric dentistry, director of cariology and lead investigator of the study.
The research involved 20 adults who ate 20 grams of dry Froot Loops® cereal, and then drank different liquids afterwards - tap water, 100 percent apple juice, or whole milk.
Wu and her team analyzed the plaque pH, or acidity, with a microelectrode on premolar teeth before the participants consumed the food, at two and five minutes after eating and then two to 30 minutes after drinking a beverage.
It is important to know that a lower pH level, less than 7, is acidic. A pH greater than 7 is considered basic. Pure water has a pH level around 7.
Milk proved to raise the pH levels the highest among all tested liquids, showing a jump from 5.7 to 6.48 at 30 minutes. Those who drank water after eating the cereal had a rise in pH from 6.02, while apple juice drinkers remained at 5.84 at 30 minutes. That means milk served as the best liquid neutralizer, and therefore the best for cavity treatment or prevention.
"Our study results show that only milk was able to reduce acidity of dental plaque resulting from consuming sugar Froot Loops®," remarks Shilpa Naval, who was Wu's former graduate student and conductor of the study. "We believe that milk helped mitigate the damaging effect of fermentable carbohydrate and overcome the previously lowered plaque pH."
The research is published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, July issue.
Milk is a healthy choice to fight cavities because it stops the growth of plaque and helps with tooth remineralization.
Crucially, however, the full benefits of drinking milk only come if you drink it separate from the sugary cereal, that is, in a glass, as opposed to mixed in the bowl with cereal. In an unpublished study, Wu found that the combination of milk and Froot Loops® became syrupy. Eating cereal mixed with milk resulted in lower pH levels, which is more acidic and harmful to your teeth.
In addition, we often consider fruit juices a healthy alternative to soda and soft drinks, but the sugars can still pose a risk to dental health.
What does this mean for you?
The next time you have a bowl of cereal, drink a glass of milk along with it. Your mouth will feel cleaner and you can get your day started right by reducing the risk of cavities.
Chewing sugarfree gum after consuming cereal can also cut acid levels in your mouth, leaving it fresh and rejuvenated.
Take a swig of mouthwash to both clean teeth and get rid of halitosis.
Whatever time you choose to pour yourself a bowl, remember to also pour a glass of milk with it to get started on your own personal cavity treatment.