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Milk after sugary cereals may prevent cavities

Research from University of Illinois at Chicago College

Research from University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry found drinking a glass of milk after eating sugary cereal may help prevent cavities. Credit: Handout

Walk down the cereal aisle at any grocery store and front and center, children's height, are the sugary cereals. And if your kids prefer Froot Loops, Fruity Pebbles and other sweet cereal rather than Special K or Raisin Bran, there's hope for protecting your little ones teeth.

A new study from the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry found drinking a glass of milk after eating a sugary breakfast cereal may reduce cavities. Researchers found milk reduces plaque acid levels and may prevent damage to tooth enamel that leads to cavities.

In a recent news release from the University, Christine Wu, professor of pediatric dentistry and director of cariology, and lead investigator on the study said: "Dry ready-to-eat, sugar-added cereals combine refined sugar and starch. When those carbohydrates are consumed, bacteria in the dental plaque on tooth surfaces produce acids."

Reports have shown that eating carbohydrates four times daily, or in quantities greater than 60 grams per person per day, increases the risk of cavities, according to the news release.

Researchers asked adults to eat 20 grams of dry Froot Loops cereal and then drink different beverages: whole milk, 100 percent apple juice and water. Then, Wu and her team measured the premolar teeth before eating, at two and five minutes after eating and then two to 30 minutes after drinking a liquid.

While the study was performed on adults, Wu said the same findings may work in children, but further studies are warranted.

"Milk is considered to be a functional food that fights cavities because it promotes tooth remineralization and inhibits the growth of plaque," she said.

Wu also said that diet plays an important role in oral health. "Studies of food intake and cavities have focused mainly on the sugar, or carbohydrate, content," she said. "Fewer studies have looked at how combinations of food, and the order in which they are eaten, may help fight cavities."

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