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31 May 2016 | Australasian Dental Practice

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New nutrition resources for dentists

Oral Health Promotion Prevention

A recent survey* of 100 dentists from across the country found that 95 per cent report giving nutritional advice to their patients. Of these, the top piece of advice given to patients is to reduce their intake of sugary drinks, with more than 70 per cent of dentists surveyed agreeing that water and milk should be the preferred drink for children. More than half also agreed that milk, yoghurt and cheese are good for dental health.


This month the United Nations General Assembly agreed a resolution proclaiming 2016 to 2025 the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition. The Framework aims to trigger intensified action to reduce the burden of diet-related non-communicable diseases in all age groups, including dental caries.

At a time when Australians are obtaining over 30 per cent of their energy intake from junk foods and drinks, it is hardly surprising that dental disease is a common health problem in Australia. A healthy balanced diet, combined with good oral hygiene and regular preventive dental care, can help reduce the risks and dentists are well positioned to encourage this.

In order to assist dentists to extend their nutritional advice, the Australian Dental Association (ADA) has partnered with Dairy Australia to create a number of printable resources for display and distribution to patients.

The ADA understands it's important to be able to provide sound nutritional advice and resources to patients. The ADA has developed a range of resources to help dental practitioners simply extend their advice to position tap water and milk as the perfect replacements for sugary drinks.

The free resources, available to all dental practitioners, include a factsheet about dairy and dental health and posters illustrating the latest science on nutrition and recommended drink choices for oral health.

Emma Glassenbury, Dairy Australia Health Professional Communication Manager and a dietitian says, "Studies show that milk, yoghurt and hard cheese are not linked to dental erosion and decay. In fact, research shows that dairy foods have a specific role to play in positive dental health as they contain a unique combination of anti-decay nutrients."

Dental practitioners can access the latest evidence-based nutrition information and download the free educational materials via the Foods That Do Good website: www.foodsthatdogood.com.au.

What is the evidence?

  • A recent cross sectional study of 3,287 adults from the Danish Health Examination Survey published in the Journal of Public Health, found people with adequate calcium intakes, whey intake greater than 9·6 g/d and casein intake 32 g/d were less likely to develop periodontitis, even after adjustment for age, gender, education, smoking, sucrose intake, alcohol consumption, number of teeth, daily brushing, regular visits to the dentist and chronic illness.1 The study concluded that milk, cheese and yoghurt should be encouraged for good dental health as they are a good source of calcium, phosphorus and the protein, casein.2,3
  • Casein, when combined with calcium and phosphorus in saliva, can assist with remineralisation of tooth enamel by providing a protective film over the tooth, reducing the risk of dental caries and healing early decay.4,5
  • Studies have also shown that eating hard cheese is linked to decreased risk of caries and erosion. Eating a small piece of cheese after consuming sugary food or drinks is recommended to help protect teeth and reduce the risk of caries - this is because cheese helps to stimulate salivary flow which neutralises the acid pH of the mouth following exposure to sugar and provides calcium and phosphate, the "building blocks" of teeth.6

*A survey of 101 Australian dentists was completed in October 2015 by IMSHealth.


  1. Adegboye A, Boucher B, Kongstad J, Fiehn N, Christensen L, Heitmann B. Calcium, vitamin D, casein and whey protein intakes and periodontitis among Danish adults. Public Health Nutr. 2015;19(03):503-10.
  2. Li H, Zou Y, Ding G. Dietary factors associated with dental erosion: a meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2012;7(8):e42626.
  3. Moynihan P, Petersen P. Diet, nutrition and the prevention of dental diseases. Public Health Nutr. 2004;7(1a).
  4. Danielsson Niemi L, Hernell O, Johansson I. Human milk compounds inhibiting adhesion of mutans streptococci to host ligand-coated hydroxyapatite in vitro. I Caries Res. 2009;43(3):171-8.
  5. Llena C, Forner L, Baca P. Anticariogenicity of casein phosphopeptide-amorphous calcium phosphate: a review of the literature. J Contemp Dent Pract. 2009;10(3):1-9.
  6. Kashket S, DePaola D. Cheese consumption and the development and progression of dental caries. Nutr Rev. 2002;60(4):97-103.

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