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For healthy teeth, say cheese

Who knew that cheese could be so mysterious? Scientists know that eating cheese will protect your teeth against cavities and acid damage… but they’re not sure why.

What we do know:

  • We know that eating cheese increases the calcium level in the plaque covering your teeth. This makes your teeth stronger by remineralizing them. In fact, eating a cube of cheese can increase the concentration of calcium in your plaque by up to 112 percent.
  • We also know that when Streptococcus Mutans, a bacteria that lives in everyone’s mouth, comes into contact with most food sugars, it produces acid. In other words, most foods make the pH level on the surface of your teeth drop. This is bad because acid damage can really wear down your teeth and make them more prone to cavities.
  • Several studies have shown that if you eat cheese after a meal, the acid level on the surface of your teeth will rise. In other words, cheese helps bring pH levels back up to a healthy level, which protects your tooth enamel.

What we don’t know:

  • Scientists are not entirely sure why cheese has this protective effect. One theory is that cheese tends to be chewy, so eating cheese causes more saliva to flow. Saliva is basic so it neutralizes the acids in your mouth. Another theory is that the fat in cheese makes it harder for bacteria to stick to your teeth. Yet another theory is that lactose, the sugar that occurs in milk and cheese, is not as cariogenic (cavity producing) as other sugars.

At the end of the day, what matters is that cheese is good for your teeth… and it’s delicious too.