A Glass of Milk After Eating Sugary Food Might Prevent Cavities

Following a meal of sugary breakfast cereal with a glass of milk reduces plaque acid levels and may prevent damage to tooth enamel that leads to cavities, according to new research released by the University of Illinois at cerealChicago College of Dentistry.

Cereals like Frosted Flakes, Captain Crunch and Fruit Loops combine refined sugars and starch. When those carbohydrates are ingested bacteria in the dental plaque on tooth surfaces produce acids, according to Christine Wu who served as principal investigator for the study.

The research was published in the July issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association. Data has shown that eating carbohydrates four times daily increases the risk of cavities. The study conducted by Wu’s former graduate student involved 20 adults eating 20 grams of dry Fruit Loops cereal, and then drinking different beverages including apple juice, tap water and whole milk.

Plaque acidity was measured with a touch microelectrode between the premolar teeth before feasting; at two and five minutes after eating; and then two to 20 minutes after drinking a liquid.

The pH in plaque dropped rapidly after consuming the cereal alone, and remained acidic at pH 5.83 at 30 minutes. A pH below 7 is considered acidic and pH above 7 is considered basic.  Milk has a pH ranging from 6.4 to 6.7 and is considered to be a functional food that fights cavities because it promotes remineralization and inhibits the growth of plaque.

Wu believes that since most people know milk to be a cavity-fighting, acid production by plaque bacteria can be minimized by mixing it with cereal. However, when the sugar mixes with milk it becomes syrupy. Eating sugar-added cereal with milk, followed by a glass of fruit juice is a high cavity-causing combination, Wu said.

However drinking a glass of milk directly after eating sugary cereal  works to bring your acidity level down to healthy levels.