When you were young, you were told that you needed to drink plenty of milk to keep your bones strong and healthy. There is certainly some truth behind this claim, but with so many options at the grocery store these days, how do you know which one you should pick? Whole cow’s milk? Almond milk? During your next trip to your local supermarket, you should consider how your choice of milk affects your smile. Here are some things for you to keep in mind.
Animal vs. Plant-Based Milks – Which One Is Best?
You have probably noticed that the milk section of the grocery store has been filling up with plant-based alternatives lately. Many people have made the switch for one reason or another. Here is how each one affects your oral health:
- Animal-Based Milks: Cow’s milk and other animal milks contain protein, calcium riboflavin, and potassium. A lot of the time, they are also fortified with vitamin D – a necessary vitamin to help the body absorb calcium.
- Plant-Based Milks: When it comes to plant-based milks, their nutritional value depends on how it was produced. Some plant-based milks are not high in protein. The closest plant-based milk that you can find to cow’s milk is calcium-fortified soy milk, but it is still lower in other nutrients than cow’s milk. If you are looking for a plant-based milk, be sure to check the nutrition label to ensure that you make the best choice for your body and smile. Beware of flavored milks because they often contain a lot of added sugar.
Why Any Milk is a Good Choice for Your Teeth
Milk is excellent for teeth. Here are some of the many benefits that you can expect:
- Contain Proteins: Protein acts as a building block for the teeth. This is especially important for children who are still growing their permanent teeth.
- Contain Calcium & Phosphorus: Both of these minerals are necessary to repair damaged teeth. They also help when acid from food tries to harm your enamel.
- Neutral pH: Milk helps to neutralize acid produced by sugary food and drinks.
- Saliva Production: Drinking milk helps to stimulate saliva production. Saliva repairs your teeth and washes away harmful bacteria.
What If You Can’t Drink Cow’s Milk?
Lactose intolerance is very common in many places throughout the world. Lactose is the sugar that naturally occurs in cow’s milk and other dairy products. If you or one of your family members is unable to digest lactose, you probably already know that drinking dairy milk isn’t a good idea. For others, abstaining from animal milks is a personal decision. If either of these cases apply to you, try to pick out a calcium-fortified coconut or almond milk to ensure that your family is getting the calcium needed for strong teeth. Other calcium-filled foods include nuts, seeds, fish, and veggies.
You want to keep your family’s teeth in healthy shape, and the products you choose can make a big difference! Instead of pulling out the two-liter bottle of cola for dinner, encourage your family to enjoy a glass of milk. Your smiles will be grateful!
About the Author
Dr. Branimir Vatavuk earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the University of Southern California and is committed to continuing education to keep his knowledge and skills sharp. Currently, he is a proud member of the American Dental Association and California Dental Association. For more information on keeping your smile healthy or to schedule an appointment at his office in Palo Alto, visit his website or call (650) 328-7333.