Cheese is a friend to your oral health for a few reasons, says Dr. Berg. First of all, it's low in carbohydrates—which makes it hard for the oral bacteria biofilm in your mouth to convert carbs to sugar to acid, the latter of which can contribute to tooth decay. And that's not all: "Cheese can also help maintain the pH balance in our mouths, which is very important for maintenance of oral health," adds Dr. Berg. "When our mouth’s pH gets out of balance, especially when it becomes too acidic, the cavity forming, tooth decaying process goes into overdrive."
Last, but certainly not least, cheese contains plenty of calcium, a mineral that's key for the health of your bones and teeth. Per the guidance of the Mayo Clinic, women between the ages of 19 and 50 need about 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day, while those 51 and older should consume about 1,200 milligrams. And while you can certainly find calcium in vegan food sources like tofu, kale, and almonds, cheese contains its fair share of the bone-supporting nutrient. For example, a one-ounce serving of cheddar cheese contains about 204 milligrams, or about 20 percent, of your daily intake of calcium.
Now that you know that cheese and oral health go together like peanut butter and jelly, you may be wondering if one variety of cheese outpaces the other when it comes to dental health. Dr. Berg recommends keeping an eye out for minimally processed cheese like cottage cheese, ricotta, cream cheese, mascarpone, and mozzarella. "Cheese in the form of string cheese is low in fat and carbs, and it is usually formed from mozzarella," he adds. However, Dr. Berg also notes that it's hard to go wrong with cheese (truer words have never been spoken)—so if there's a particular variety that makes your heart sing, go for it.
One final note: Make sure you're maintaining your oral health by flossing, brushing your teeth, and prioritizing your yearly dental appointments, too. After all, research has yet to show that cheese can protect you from gingivitis—but hey, a girl can dream.
What a dietitian thinks about alt-cheeses:
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