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Greensboro, NC 27408

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July 14th, 2019

How Non-Dairy Milk is Bad for your Teeth

It is taught as a child that milk contains calcium that our teeth and bones require to be strong and healthy. However, it is not common knowledge that this statement may only be true for cow’s milk and not other types of milk, one might consume.

Cow’s milk is an excellent source of calcium and vitamin D for our teeth and bones.  It keeps them healthy and able to fight against many oral health-related problems such as tooth decay. In particular, calcium strengthens the protective enamel layer of our teeth to keep them safe from cavities, scratches, tooth sensitivity, and other issues.

Soy Milk is made by soaking and grinding soybeans.  It was first introduced om the United States in 1979 and is popular in vegan/vegetarian, lactose intolerant, and health-conscious diets.  Some studies show that soy milk is six times more harmful to teeth than cow’s milk because bacteria commonly found in the mouth produce five to six times more acid when they feed on soy milk compared to cow's milk. Acids in the mouth contribute to the formation of plaque on teeth, which in turn cause tooth decay and the formation of cavities.  Soy milk also contains a significant amount of added sugar which is detrimental for teeth.  Ordinary cow’s milk does not produce a high degree of acidity because it’s naturally occurring sugars and caseins are difficult to ferment.  Caseins are proteins naturally found in milk which form a protective film on the enamel

An alternative to the non-dairy soy milk would be any of the nut variants of milk (almond milk, cashew milk, coconut milk). When shopping, one should choose the unsweetened variety to avoid hidden sugars additives.  

The best milk for your teeth is cow’s milk; however, if your diet does not fare well with dairy milk, consider other types of foods that will add calcium and vitamin D to your diet.

Foods that are high in calcium include:
- Spinach
- Kale
- Okra
- Collards
- Soybeans
- White beans
- Some fish, like sardines, salmon, perch and rainbow trout
- Foods that are calcium-fortified, such as some orange juice, oatmeal, and breakfast cereals 

Foods that provide vitamin D include:
- Fatty fish, like tuna, mackerel, and salmon
- Foods fortified with vitamin D, like some dairy products, orange juice, and cereals
- Beef Liver
- Cheese 
- Egg yolks

Contact a dietitian or nutritionist if you have any questions regarding how your diet impacts your health and to make sure you are getting the necessary nutrients for your body.

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