If you love cheese, there's a reason to love it even more. Commonly, cheese has been considered a good snack because it contains plenty of calcium which is good for your bones and teeth.
Now, a new study shows that dentists can even more confidently advise cheese to actually keep a person happily grinning.
The study published in the May/June 2013 issue of General Dentistry shows that eating cheese increased pH level of dental plaque in observed patients, which in turn decreased the odds of developing cavities and other forms of tooth decay.
"What I think is exciting about this is it shows that cheese - particularly as a snack - can reduce the acids that will cause cavities and gum disease," Dr. Jeffrey M. Cole, president of the Academy of General Dentistry, said to CBSNews.com.
"In a lot of low-carb diets, string cheese is the go-to snack," Cole added. "(Cheese) not only it fits one of those diets, it's actually good for your teeth! It makes it all much better."
For the purposes of study, sixty-eight adolescent individuals between the ages of 12 and 15 were observed. Dentists measured their dental plaque pH before they ate dairy products and after.
A baseline pH of 7 means the environment is neutral. Anything above or below 7 is considered basic or acidic, respectively. A pH level lower than 5.5 puts a person at risk for tooth erosion, which is when the protective enamel layer on the teeth is worn away. This leaves the tooth vulnerable to cavities, also known as dental caries, and other problems.
After the initial dental plaque pH levels were taken, the subjects were told either to eat cheddar cheese, drink milk or eat sugar-free yogurt for three minutes and then rinse their mouths with water. The researchers then measured pH levels 10, 20 and 30 minutes after the subjects stopped eating.
The subjects who ate the milk and sugar-free yogurt had no pH changes. However, those who ate cheese had a quick, steady increase of pH as time progressed.
Cole points out that cheese also contains pyrophosphates, which is a salt or ester that is commonly found in fluorides and toothpaste. They can work to re-mineralize a tooth that has been surrounded by acid.
Researchers believe that eating cheese stimulates saliva production, which is the body's way of keeping the mouth at a normal acidity level. The saliva acts as a flush to remove any residue in your mouth, and also provides a buffer against high levels of acidity.
Even better news is that no fat, low fat and regular cheese have the same properties, so people can snack on a healthier option while still getting the same benefits. Some cheeses can be packed with saturated fats and sodium.
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