A new study suggests small amounts of cheddar shield your teeth from the enamel damaging effects of coffee, tea, and wine.
It turns out that cheddar may do more than turn up the flavour of your food. According to a new study from the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), cheese protects your pearly whites from acid erosion—the breakdown of enamel brought on by coffee, tea, wine, soda, and so on.
How does it work? Well, our mouths naturally have a slightly acidic (low) pH, and when we consume foods or drinks that drive that pH level even lower, our tooth enamel takes a hit. While saliva acts as a neutralizing agent and restores pH levels in the mouth after we eat, some foods can assist in the pH-boosting process. When AGD researchers tested how milk, yogurt, and cheddar cheese affect oral pH levels, they found that cheese elevates pH for 30 minutes after eating (milk and yogurt’s protective effects lasted only 10 minutes).
Researchers believe two factors make cheese a dental superstar. First, it’s a “sialagogue,” a compound that causes salivation. Cheese also contains teeth-strengthening casein phosphate. The best part: Neither factor is related to cheese’s fat content, which means low-fat varieties are just as effective.
Still, you don’t have to devour a whole wheel of low-fat cheese to enjoy its protective benefit. All it takes is about a third of a slice. For the biggest mouth-saving effect, take bites from a piece of cheese throughout the course of a meal, snack or glass of wine, and always ending with the cheese.