A new study has found that drinking a glass of milk after breakfast significantly reduces the build-up of plaque.
Results of an American study have shown a small glass of milk more than halves the build-up of plaque acids after eating dry sugary breakfast cereal.
Milk is one of the best sources of calcium and the study reaffirms the belief that drinking milk after a meal can also help because it neutralises the acids and re-mineralise the teeth after eating.
The frequent consumption of sugary foods and drinks exposes teeth to longer periods of acid attacks and weakens the enamel. While some experts have labelled breakfast as the most important meal of the day, research group Which? discovered 12 out of 14 cereals we know and love contain worryingly high levels of sugar. Even cereals perceived as healthy are somewhat contradictory, also containing high levels of sugar.
The UK in general has developed a very unhealthy food environment, making it even harder to improve dietary habits.
Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, said: 'It is important to remember is that it is not the amount of sugar you eat or drink, but how often you do it. A sugary breakfast once a day might not cause significant damage to your teeth on its own. It is the snacking culture that seems to have developed throughout the day that is harmful.
'As a result, the Foundation recommends eating three square meals a day instead of having seven to 10 'snack attacks'. If people do snack between meals, choose foods and drinks that do not contain sugar. Chocolate, biscuits, cakes, dried fruit, soft and fizzy drinks, along with squashes are all high in sugar, which can lead to decay or damage the enamel on the surface of the tooth.
'These pose a significant risk to oral health, particularly for young children. When you consider a third of children age five and age 12 have decayed teeth, there is an increasing need for stricter measures to be put in place so that children's health does not deteriorate further. Sugary foods have become the norm, this gives us an insight into why children's dental health in the UK is so poor.
'It would help enormously if parents could encourage children to move away from breakfast cereals loaded with sugars. It may be an easy solution to give children something sweet to appease them, but by keeping the consumption of sugary foods to a minimum, the benefits to oral health will have a lasting impact.'
The research, published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, was conducted at the Department of Paediatric Dentistry at the University of Illinois. Twenty adults were given four different combinations – dry sugary Froot Loops cereal, followed by cereal and milk, cereal and pure apple juice and cereal and water.
Consumption of Froot Loops plaque pH was 5.83 (0.68) at 30 minutes, whereas plaque pH in the milk group was 6.48 (0.30), which was significantly higher than that for juice (5.83 [0.49]) or water (6.02 [0.41]