June is here again, and with it comes National Dairy Month. This month promotes awareness of the health benefits dairy consumers enjoy. We all know by now that the calcium in milk is needed for our bones to grow and remain strong. What is less well known are the benefits that dairy products have on our teeth, as well. Dr. Richard Kobak wants you to understand the importance of milk and how it can help you maintain a strong and healthy smile.
Milk Strengthens Natural Defenses of Teeth
Plaque constantly forms on your teeth. It’s natural, and plaque actually helps strengthen your immune system. However, plaque also causes cavities and contributes to gum disease. Many foods, especially those with refined sugars and fermentable carbohydrates, can alter the pH (acidity) of plaque, making it more acidic. When plaque reaches a pH level of 5.5 or lower, it becomes harmful, attacking tooth enamel and robbing teeth of essential minerals like calcium and phosphate. The enamel softens and cannot protect teeth from bacterial infection, increasing your chance of tooth decay and gum disease. Drinking milk replenishes these minerals and reduces your teeth’s susceptibility to acid attacks.
Milk as Artificial Saliva
Dry mouth is a common condition that affects one in every four to five adults. When your mouth doesn’t produce adequate amounts of saliva, you may feel as though you are chewing on a ball of cotton. This discomfort makes chewing and swallowing difficult, and many dry mouth sufferers do not consume healthy amounts of the minerals and nutrients their bodies need. One of saliva’s main purposes is also to neutralize acid production by plaque. Dry mouth patients, therefore, are at greater risk for bacterial infection, tooth decay, and gum disease. Drinking milk provides the minerals needed for enamel to remineralize in the absence of saliva production, and it also contains proteins that replace saliva’s natural buffer against acid attacks.
Milk Deters Tooth Loss
Aside from protecting bones and teeth, calcium is needed by the rest of the body to perform critical functions. For instance, calcium allows your muscles and blood vessels to expand and contract. It also allows your blood to clot and your nervous system to send signals throughout the body. However, only 10% of your body’s calcium supply is circulated through your bloodstream. The remaining 90% is stored and used in your bones and teeth. If blood levels become calcium deficient, your body will automatically take calcium from your bones and teeth in order to keep blood levels adequate. The loss of calcium can devastate your teeth, greatly reducing their protective capacity against infection. Defenseless, your teeth will soon become susceptible to bacterial infection, and can fall out if measures are not taken to prevent it.
At Syosset Dental, Dr. Kobak will perform a comprehensive exam to determine if you are at risk due to a calcium deficiency or another dental health issue. If you are in the Long Island area and would like to schedule an appointment, call Syosset Dental at (516) 433-2211. We are located in Syosset, New York, and we welcome patients from Long Island, Nassau, Suffolk, and the surrounding New York City neighborhoods.