Milk and dairy products: possible effects on dental health

  • Ingegerd Johansson


Milk and dairy products have a low cariogenic potential, but they are also claimed to be cariostatic. Thus, bovine milk and cheese provide protection against caries in rats and in situ, even in caries-susceptible conditions. The mechanisms involve several milk components and effects. Caseins and peptides thereof, i.e. casein glycomacropeptide (CGMP) and casein phosphopeptide (CPP), reduce the adhesion of cariogenic mutans streptococci in situ and seem to reduce colonization in the rat. They block adhesion in solution (clearance), as well as when bound to tooth surfaces. CGMP binds to the tooth as micelle-like structures, which do not bind bacteria. CPP binds as minor complexes with calcium and phosphate, buffering calcium and phosphate when hydroxyapatite solubility increases by decreasing pH, and possibly explaining the acid-buffering effect from milk and cheese. Further, peptides in the whey fraction, i.e. proteose-peptones, provide protection against tooth tiss ue demineralization, and other milk peptides, such as kappacin (a k-casein-derived peptide), lactoferrin, lactoperoxidase and lysozyme, possess innate immunity-like functions. Using milk components as a caries-prophylactic measure has not been studied in humans, but epidemiological studies confirm associations between milk/cheese intake and protection against caries. However, the impact of possible confounders cannot yet be fully evaluated. Keywords: Cheese, dental caries, milk, peptides, S. mutans.


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How to Cite
Johansson, I. (2002). Milk and dairy products: possible effects on dental health. Food & Nutrition Research, 119-122.

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