We often advise people to eat cheese to strengthen their oral health over the festive season - but why? Can a cheese course replace your evening brushing routine? And will any cheese do, or are some cheeses better than others? Read on to find out how cheese helps to maintain your dental health and hygiene, and which cheeses to stock up on for your end of meal cheese board!
How and Why is Cheese Good for Your Teeth?
Phosphate and calcium can be found in any dairy-based cheese, and these work together to strengthen your teeth and bones in the long term. Some cheeses are also good for the immediate health of your mouth and help to neutralise your oral pH levels by increasing your saliva production and coating the surface of your teeth in a film of calcium, which helps to strengthen the enamel!
Choose Your Cheese
The best cheeses for your immediate oral health are hard, aged cheeses such as Cheddar, Gouda, Blue, Swiss or Brie - which is already a wonderfully varied selection for a good cheese course! You can also go for lower-fat alternatives like Parmigiano Reggiano, which is both diet and dental friendly. Soft cheeses are calcium rich, and include anything from mozzarella to soft goats cheese - these cheeses won’t activate your saliva as well as hard cheeses, but you will still reap the long-term benefits!
A pitfall to watch out for is how you pair your cheese - it’s all well and good to nibble on a cube of cheddar, but if you consume it atop a salty cracker you risk losing out on the neutralising effects of the cheese by filling your mouth with bacteria-forming starch! The same issue goes for a sweet pairing: there's nothing quite like a hard cheese eaten with a smear of quince jam, but the latter is full of sugars and acids that can cause havoc in your mouth! We recommend starting off your cheese course with a starchy base or sweet accompaniment of your choice, but then ending with a simple cube of unadulterated cheese to neutralise any harmful ingredients that might have made their way into your mouth!
The Brushing Dilemma
Now to the question on everyone’s lips - does a cube of hard, aged cheese at the end of a meal mean you can skip your evening brushing routine? The answer is easy: No. Cheese is absolutely not a substitute for your oral health routine - otherwise we’d all be nibbling on Gouda before bed! While cheese does help to maintain your dental strength over the long term and balance your oral pH in the short term, there really is nothing more important than a consistent oral hygiene routine. As with any other food or drink, ideally you should wait 30 minutes after eating cheese and then brush and floss with a good quality toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste!