Can Cheese Prevent Cavities?

As if we actually needed another reason to help ourselves to some delicious cheese, there’s now another one: your smile. That’s because a recent study found that cheese can help protect your teeth against cavities.

During the study, recently published in General Dentistry, researchers divided 68 subjects aged 12 to 15 into three groups. One group was assigned to eat cheddar cheese, the second to drink milk and the third to drink sugar-free yogurt. Each subject ate or drank their assigned dairy product for three minutes and rinsed their mouths with water before having their pH levels measured three 10, 20 and 30 minutes after consumption.

What they found was that the milk and yogurt groups experienced no pH changes, whereas the cheese group experienced a rapid increase in pH levels. Researchers say this is because chewing increased saliva production that helps regulate acidity in the mouth. Another explanation is that cheese contains certain compounds that stick to tooth enamel and can help protect your teeth from acid.

"It looks like dairy does the mouth good," says Academy of General Dentistry spokesperson Seung-Hee Rhee, DDS. "Not only are dairy products a healthy alternative to carb- or sugar-filled snacks, they also may be considered as a preventive measure against cavities."