You have have heard at some point throughout your childhood that you should drink milk to grow strong healthy teeth. While this is certainly true, many of us only have a vague notion as to why milk is so beneficial. What health benefits are contained within this popular childhood drink?
Milk is a great source of calcium, which also happens to be a major component of tooth enamel. Your tooth enamel is the white hard outer layer of your tooth and serves as a protective barrier for the softer layers underneath. Enamel can slowly breakdown over time as it gets exposed to various acidic compounds from food and as a byproduct of bacterial breakdown of food in your mouth. As enamel breaks down, the yellow dentin layer underneath becomes exposed, which can cause your teeth to become more yellow in colour. Drinking calcium helps provide your body with extra calcium to help rebuild and replenish lost mineral reserves in tooth enamel, keeping your inner tooth layers protected and giving you a reason to flash those pearly whites!
Besides being a major component of tooth enamel, calcium has another key role in your teeth. Your teeth and bones act as major reservoirs of your body’s calcium supply and play crucial roles in ensuring that a healthy balance of this important mineral is being maintained at all times. A calcium deficiency means your body has to draw from its calcium reserves, which means removing calcium from teeth and bones. Therefore, one of the main reasons to drink milk is to help restock your body’s calcium reserves. In some ways, whiter teeth can be thought of as a happy byproduct of a healthy reserve of calcium.
Milk contains a special kind of sugar compound called lactose. Although it’s chemically different from regular sugar, bacteria are still able to break it down and release acidic byproducts. As a result, you’ll want to avoid drinking milk right before bed, as residual lactose on your teeth can get targeted by hungry bacteria looking for a midnight snack. If you’re set on enjoying a nice glass of milk before bed, try to brush your teeth or rinse your mouth with a swish of water afterwards to help wash away the milk sugar.
Drinking milk has long been recommended as an excellent way to build healthy teeth, and for good reason too! If you can’t or don’t enjoy drinking milk, consider an alternative, such as soy or almond milk. These beverages contain many of the same great ingredients that make milk so healthy and are viable choices, especially for those who might be lactose-intolerant. Have more questions about the status of your oral health? Centennial Smiles is here to help! You can reach us at (587) 317‑7959 today!