Does Milk Make Your Teeth White?

In this brief article, we will be answering the question, “does milk make your teeth white?”. We will also tell you some interesting facts about milk and teeth whitening, and also give you some tips to keep your pearly whites shiny and sparkling. 

Does Milk Make Your Teeth White?

Yes, consuming milk does gradually make your teeth white.

This is because dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt contain lactic acid as well as the enamel-fortifying mineral calcium. These components not only strengthen teeth but also whiten them. 

What Effect Does Milk Have On Teeth?

Milk contains an appropriate and balanced amount of dairy to help strengthen teeth and prevent them from being damaged or tarnished.  

Like other sugars, the main sugar in milk (lactose) does not cause tooth decay. Apart from its numerous health benefits, this is why milk is so important for babies.

And here’s another interesting fact: some dentists actually recommend adding milk to tea to minimize the latter’s ability to stain teeth! 

What Does Research Say About Milk Whitening Teeth?

 

If you’re still not convinced, here’s some science to prove our point: a study published in the International Journal of Dental Hygiene revealed that milk can make teeth whiter.

To investigate, researchers placed some extracted human teeth in some tea, and some tea containing milk for 24 hours. After removing them from their respective beverages, researchers analyzed the teeth to check their color and compared them to their hue before being placed in the beverages.  

They found that the teeth placed in the tea with milk were less stained and retained their original hue as compared to those placed in tea only. They contribute this to milk’s primary protein, casein, which binds to compounds known as tannins in the tea and prevents them from staining teeth. Casein, which makes up 80% of the protein content in bovine milk, is the component of milk that is responsible for significantly reducing tea’s ability to stain teeth (1).

Moreover, the researchers noted that the dairy component of milk was more effective in whitening teeth than the artificial bleaching products added to whitening toothpaste. 

Can Other Dairy Products Also Whiten Teeth?

Certainly! As mentioned earlier, milk along with other dairy products such as cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, and buttermilk are excellent for teeth whitening and health. 

Chewing on some cheese can be particularly helpful since it enhances saliva production which clears food particles that stain teeth. But, the best way to avoid extrinsic stains is to brush your teeth right after eating and to consume tooth-staining foods and beverages in moderation (1).  

What Causes Tooth Stains?

As a general rule: if something can stain your tongue or your clothes, it will probably also stain your teeth. While intrinsic tooth stains are integrated into the mineral structure of enamel and/or dentin during development (e.g. tetracycline treatment, excess fluoride ingestion) and therefore difficult to remove, extrinsic tooth stain is generally the result of consumption of chromogenic substances in the diet. Consequently, extrinsic tooth stain is more readily treatable compared with intrinsic stain (1). 

Chemical compounds known as chromogens are responsible for the strong color of certain foods and beverages and are also the culprits that stain teeth. Also, foods and drinks containing tannins are much more likely to stain teeth.  

Moreover, acids present in foods also wear down teeth and increase their chances of retaining stains. Acidic conditions will weaken the enamel and make it more vulnerable to get infiltrated by stain (2). 

What Foods Stains Teeth The Most?

According to Dr. Gentry of the University of Maryland School of Dentistry, the most common foods that stain teeth include:

  • Tea and coffee (due to the presence of tannins)
  • Red wine
  • Cola
  • Dark-colored fruit juices
  • Curry
  • Soy sauce
  • Tomato-based sauces
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Berries
  • Beetroot

How Can You Quickly Whiten Teeth With Milk?

According to the dental staff of the Dental Clinic Taunton Village Dental, in Ontario, Canada, using powdered milk to brush your teeth is a quick and effective way to make your pearly whites shine and also stay healthy. 

Simply apply some regular toothpaste to your toothbrush and add a small amount of powdered milk on top of it. Brush thoroughly for the recommended three minutes, and rinse. 

Make sure to rinse properly after brushing. Continue this practice for a few days to see positive results.

What Else Can Help Whiten Teeth and Prevent Staining?

The biggest factor in protecting your teeth from staining is practicing proper oral hygiene. 

Here are some simple tips for you to help maintain the health of your teeth and keep them sparkling white.

  • Make sure to brush your teeth at least twice a day, especially before bedtime, as recommended by the dentist.
  • If your tooth staining is a result of excessive consumption of certain foods or drinks, try and limit their amount or seek alternatives. For instance, you could replace your regular cup of tea with light herbal tea or some flavored hot water.
  • ALWAYS rinse your mouth thoroughly with water after eating or drinking, especially if you’ve consumed something that might stain teeth.
  • Using a straw to drink cold drinks such as sodas, juices, and cola can prevent them from coming in direct contact with and staining teeth.
  • Certain chewing gums containing xylitol also help stimulate the production of more saliva, which cleans out your mouth and teeth.
  • Eating a lot of crunchy fruits and vegetables such as apples, celery, and carrots also boosts saliva production and subsequently scrubs the teeth.
  • Visit your dentist or hygienist frequently and follow their advice. They might recommend certain products you can use to reduce staining.
  • If you’re looking for a quick teeth whitening regime,  you can also try professional cleaning or tooth whitening.

Conclusion

In this brief article, we answered the question, “Does milk make your teeth white?”, told you some interesting facts about milk and teeth whitening, and also gave you some tips to keep your pearly whites shiny and sparkling. 

If you have any questions and comments please let us know.

References

  1. Lee, R. J., et al. Prevention of tea‐induced extrinsic tooth stain. Int J Dental Hyg, 2014, 12, 267-272.
  2. Iskandar, Lilis. Effect of spinach (amranthus hibridus L.) leaves extract solution and milk to level of tooth discoloration due to coffee. J Phys Conf Series, 2018, 1073
  3. Perry, R. What causes discolored teeth and is there any way to cure or prevent staining? 2019. Tufts School of Dental Medicine.

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.