Last updated on: 4/8/2008 | Author:

What Is Known about Milk’s Effect on Teeth?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)

Justin Merritt, PhD, Research Scientist, Fengxia Qi, PhD, Assistant Professor, and Wenyuan Shi, PhD, Professor and Chair, all of the department of Oral Biology at the UCLA School of Dentistry, wrote in their May 2006 paper “Milk Helps Build Strong Teeth and Promotes Oral Health for Life,” published in the Journal of the California Dental Association:

“Milk has the right ingredients for promoting oral health. Besides the obvious beneficial factor, calcium, milk also contains multiple proteins important for oral health. Casein is a family of proteins comprising 80% of the milk protein that can help to recruit calcium phosphates to repair the cavity. Casein is also able to prevent the adhesion of cavity-causing bacteria to the tooth surface. In addition to casein, milk also contains whey proteins, lactoferrin, lysozyme and antibodies that can promote oral health via their strong antibacterial activities…

These proteins are generally thought to have a positive effect on cariogenesis via two mechanism: prevention of demineralization and inhibition ob bacterial attachment and/or biofilm formation.”

May 2006 - Wenyuan Shi, PhD Fengxia Qi, PhD Justin Merritt, PhD

The National Dairy Council wrote in its article “A Protective Effect of Dairy Foods in Oral Health,” published on its website (accessed Jan. 17, 2008):

“Milk’s nutrients such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin D, and others support the development of teeth and oral tissues in young children which may help to protect against dental caries. Although evidence is limited, milk’s nutrients such as calcium may have a role in protecting against periodontal disease in adults…

Several different types of studies indicate that milk is noncariogenic and does not promote dental caries.”

Jan. 17, 2008 - National Dairy Council (NDC)

J. Thomas Russell, DDS, General Dentist at Yellow Springs Dental Care, wrote in a June 11, 2006 post “Teeth Don’t Need Milk,” on his dental practice website:

“Milk is an essential nutrient for bone. We need calcium in our diets at every age, to have healthy bone.

However, after a tooth erupts, calcium can neither be taken from nor added to the tooth–it is unavailable to the body. After the tooth erupts into the mouth drinking milk cannot ‘strengthen’ the enamel or any other part of the tooth. Our last teeth (the wisdom teeth) come into the mouth at around 17 to 20 years of age.”

June 11, 2006 - J. Thomas Russell, DDS