Can Soy Milk be Bad for Your Teeth?

In a health-conscious world, the word “soy” receives mixed reviews. Some praise soy for its health benefits as an alternative to such foods as milk and meat, while some consider it useless, if not downright harmful, to our physical wellbeing. A new study from University of Melbourne’s Dental School in Australia suggests that soy milk may actually be more harmful to your teeth compared to cow’s milk. Your Corona dentists explore the study and what it may mean for soy milk consumers.

Production of Acid

Bacteria constantly form in your mouth and accumulate into a biofilm known as plaque, which coats your entire mouth. The bacteria is a mix of helpful and harmful microbes, and in a healthy mouth, the bacterial population can be controlled by natural defenses like saliva and tooth enamel. When you eat or drink, the bacteria metabolize sugars and carbs and excrete lactic acid on the surface of your teeth. Acids weaken your enamel, and sap minerals from your tooth so the enamel cannot regain its strength. When the enamel is sufficiently weakened, bacteria have access to the interior of your tooth, where they can cause decay and severe sensitivity. Cow’s milk contains high volumes of calcium and phosphate, the same minerals your enamel is made of, and that acids siphon from your tooth. By drinking milk, you can assist your enamel in remineralization by providing a source of calcium and phosphate. Cow’s milk also has the added benefit of neutralizing acids, lessening their attack on your teeth.

Soy Milk’s Performance

Eric Reynolds and his colleagues from UM’s Dental School decided to test soy milk’s benefit to oral health. By mixing soy milk with the bacteria Streptococcus mutans (the main bacteria that causes tooth decay), they were able to observe soy milk’s performance against your tooth’s enemy. What they discovered was that the soy milk became significantly more acidic within less than ten minutes of contact with the bacteria. Cow’s milk did not. While this is by no means a definitive answer to soy bean’s effect on oral health, it raises enough questions to wonder, and to perform further tests on the subject.

To learn more about nutrition and your oral health, or to schedule a consultation, checkup, and cleaning, call Dental Associates of Corona today at 951-273-9580.