Most of us grew up being told we had to drink our milk because it was good for our teeth and bones, and many of us are aware this is because milk contains calcium. But what is it about this mineral that is so good for teeth?
Calcium is one of the most abundant minerals in your body, and is primarily found in your teeth and bones, providing vital structural support. Every day your teeth undergo a process called demineralisation and remineralisation.
This is where acids produced by bacteria in your mouth attack your tooth enamel, leaching out some of the minerals, including calcium, that make up the structure of your teeth. Demineralisation occurs every time you eat starchy carbohydrates or sugary foods.
After a while the acidity levels reduce, and your teeth remineralise as minerals in your saliva, including calcium, are redeposited back into your tooth surfaces, helping to re-harden your tooth enamel. If you don’t have enough calcium, there might not be enough in your saliva to help re-harden your teeth, increasing your risk of cavities.
While the importance of calcium is often emphasised for children, it is beneficial for everyone. Luckily it is found in numerous different foods, not just milk. It is also present in other dairy products such as yoghurt and cheese, as well as tinned sardines and salmon. You’ll also find it in almonds, tofu, some cereals, soy and rice beverages. Leafy green vegetables such as broccoli, kale, spinach and cabbage are an excellent source of calcium.