The Effect of Dairy Products on Oral Hygiene

Summary
Recent research findings have suggested that regular consumption of dairy products lessens the occurrence of teeth and gum diseases. This study furthers the attempt to understand which particular dairy products or ingredients could be responsible for protecting the mouth from disease. The study involved a survey conducted in the city of Hisayama on 942 subjects selected from a population aged between 40 and 79 years. The results showed that it is the consumption of foods containing lactic acid, like yogurt, that could be related to fewer instances of teeth and gum diseases.

Introduction
Recent studies have shown that a high intake of dairy products has a beneficial effect on oral health. However, the elements of different dairy products vary and those studies did not specify the particular dairy product which was beneficial. Hence, it is unclear whether the intake of dairy products in general, or the intake of specific dairy products, had a positive effect on periodontal disease. By the use of a detailed questionnaire, statistical methods and examination of participants by qualified dietitians, the present study tried to gain an understanding of precisely which dairy products are useful in lowering the probability of tooth and gum diseases.

Methodology

  • A qualified dentist examined the oral health of 942 people from Hisayama, Japan, and recorded the specific parameters.
  • Information on eating habits in the past one year and lifestyle was collected through food frequency questionnaires.
  • The dairy products were categorized into four items: milk, cheese, foods containing lactic acid like yogurt, and other dairy products such as skim milk.
  • Results were statistically correlated to find out the effect of consuming dairy products on dental health.

Results/key findings

  • The habitual eating of lactic acid foods may have a beneficial effect on dental health.
  • Calcium from dairy products may not have had a significant impact on the oral health in this study.
  • The consumption of lactic acid foods controls and restricts the growth of germs and infection-causing bacteria in the mouth, thereby lowering the possibility of diseases in the mouth.

Next steps/Shortcomings
The study could not incorporate the exact brand of dairy products used by each individual participant, therefore, information on the exact contents of dairy products could not be mapped. Furthermore, the oral examinations were not elaborate enough to include the health of each individual tooth of the participants. Instead, only a general oral health check was made.

Conclusion
While the results do not imply that oral diseases may be prevented by frequent consumption of lactic acid foods, this study is indicative of the fact that regularly including these foods may have a positive impact on maintaining one’s oral health. Apart from dairy products, certain other influences were also noticeable in the study. For instance, male participants were more likely to get oral diseases than women. Old age, smoking habits, and alcoholism also contributed to increased occurrences of oral diseases. The myth-breaking observation of this study is that the amount of calcium intake from dairy products had very little effect on dental diseases in the participants.

For More Information:
Consumption of Dairy Products and its Relation to Teeth and Gum Diseases
Publication Journal: Journal of Periodontology, January 2008
By Yoshihiro Shimazaki; Tomoko Shirota
From the Kyushu University, and Nakamura-Gakuen University, Fukuoka, Japan

*FYI Living Lab Reports Are Summaries of the Original Research.