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July 2013

Cheese and Other Dairy Products May Have Anti-Cavity Benefits

Dairy products, particularly cheese, may help protect teeth from cavities, according to a study.

The health of the mouth can be an indicator of the individual's overall health. Many serious diseases, such as diabetes, human immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV) and some eating disorders (such as bulimia), show their first signs as symptoms in the mouth, such as oral thrush (an overgrowth of yeast in the mouth). It is for these reasons that healthcare professionals recommend complete, yearly oral exams.

Dental problems include dental cavities, gum diseases (such as gingivitis and periodontitis), canker sores (aphthous stomatitis), mucositis, fungal infections, oral leukoplakia and oral cancer. The most common oral health problems are cavities and gum disease (including gingivitis and periodontitis). Most adults show signs of gum disease during their lifetime. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), gum disease affects about 14% of adults aged 45-54 years.

In the current study, the authors reviewed the effects of dairy consumption on the pH of dental plaque in 68 subjects aged 12-15 years. A pH level lower than 5.5 may indicate the risk of tooth erosion, or the wearing down of tooth enamel. According to the authors, the higher the plaque pH level is above 5.5, the lower the risk of developing cavities. Participants avoided brushing their teeth for 48 hours before the study. They were randomly assigned into four groups: cheese, milk, yogurt, or paraffin (the control group). All of the subjects chewed or swished their respective product for 3 minutes, and their plaque pH was assessed at specific intervals.

The results suggested that different dairy products led to different changes in mean plaque pH. The pH was higher after 30 minutes in the cheese group, compared to the milk and yogurt groups.

The researchers concluded that cheese may help reduce the risk of cavities, compared to other dairy products. However, further study is needed to better understand and confirm these findings.

Many herbs and supplements have been evaluated for potential benefit on dental health. There is strong scientific evidence supporting the use of strontium for dental conditions.

For more information about cavities, please visit Natural Standard's Medical Conditions database.


  1. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. 
  2. Telgi RL, Yadav V, Telgi CR, et al. In vivo dental plaque pH after consumption of dairy products. Gen Dent. 2013 May-Jun;61(3):56-9.

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