Eating yoghurt regularly could slash a child’s risk of developing tooth decay, according to new research.
Consuming the dairy product at least four times a week reduced the chances of three-year-olds developing cavities by 22 per cent, compared to those who ate it less than once a week.The findings, published in the Journal of Dentistry, came from a Japanese study which was investigating earlier claims that dairy foods generally could ward off dental decay in children.
But while butter, cheese and milk appeared to have no major benefit, high consumption of yoghurt did have a protective effect in young children.It’s not clear why yoghurt reduces the need for fillings.
But one theory is that it contains proteins that ‘bind’ to the surface of teeth and seals them against attack from harmful acids.This seal means the calcium and phosphate which makes up tooth enamel is not broken down over time.The research, by experts at Fukuoka University and the University of Tokyo, supports earlier work by Australian scientists who exposed extracted teeth to yoghurt and found it kept decay at bay.
Fears over children’s dental health in the UK were raised last year when figures revealed a steep rise in the number of children being admitted to hospital for emergency dental work due to tooth decay. Nearly 30,000 children a year in England need hospital treatment, many to have rotten teeth pulled. Children from poorer areas are twice as likely to need treatment as those from affluent families.
In the latest study, Japanese researchers looked at more than 2,000 children aged three and quizzed parents on their eating habits. Each child also had a dental check to assess the state of their teeth. The results showed a clear link with yoghurt but not with other popular dairy produce.
In a report on their findings the researchers said: ‘High consumption of yoghurt may be associated with a lower prevalence of dental cavities in young children.’ But British Dental Health Foundation chief executive Dr Nigel Carter warned: ‘It should be remembered that many yoghurts in the UK contain added sugar and it is well established that increasing the frequency of sugar containing foods and drinks leads to an increase in dental decay.
‘Yoghurts are also quite thick and will tend to coat the teeth for longer which can also lead to problems. If parents wish to increase their children’s yoghurt intake it is therefore important that this be confined to meal times.’
Source: Daily Mail