Raw Milk vs. Pasturized Milk and Teeth

Dear Dr. Ellie,

I was reading an article today about a protest in Amish country of farmers over regulations prohibiting interstate commerce in raw (unpasteurized) milk. I like to follow matters like this being while not a homesteader, leaning towards that plain and simple life and persuasion.

What was interest at the end of the article, one lady commented, I quote:

“Leah Mack, who runs Grazy Days Family Farm in Union Bridge, Md., and who brought the cow that was milked, said she grew up vegan but her health was suffering. She switched about six years ago and began drinking raw milk and said she can feel the effects in her teeth – literally. She said she used to have cavities all the time, including underneath of already-drilled fillings, but her teeth are now healthy, as are her children’s teeth.

“The dentist said ‘You’re doing great.’ Not a cavity, not anything. I said ‘Yes. This confirms this stuff that I believe and that I felt,’ ” she said.”

And I wondered if you had any further knowledge about whether or why raw milk might be better for teeth than pasteurized milk? I know it’s only one person’s experience but it makes a person curious for more information.



Hi JW,

What an interesting question!! Milk can be good or bad – and below are the facts that explain this story about milk:

Dairy is good for teeth –
In many studies, whole milk has been shown to stop decay (cariostatic) and stimulate repair of cavities ( remineralization). Studies show that ending a meal with dairy is tooth-protective – since milk makes the mouth alkaline and also contains essential “ingredients” for tooth repair.  Cheese and yogurt are also great for teeth.

A study was done with children in Europe where they were given a piece of cheese every day after breakfast – and they had far less cavities than the controls at the end of the study. The minerals in milk are the EXACT minerals that promote repair and remineralization of teeth.

FYI – The “new” expensive MI paste that dentist in the US sell to patients for about $30 per tube – is made from dried milk powder!! (Such a clever idea – and the ADA make money from the patent on the intellectual property !!)  http://www.mi-paste.com/about.php

When milk is not so good..
(High Sugar-Low fat Milk and Mother’s Breast Milk):

IF YOU HAVE CAVITY-FORMING BACTERIA IN YOUR MOUTH – sugars in “high-sugar milk” CAN provide energy to these bacteria – and allow them to cause cavities.
High-sugar milk is in fact LOW FAT milk ( the proportion of sugars are greater as the fat content is reduced) and mother’s breast milk. If you use xylitol to clean the mouth and eradicate Strep mutans (cavity bacteria) – then there will NOT be any cavity-forming bacteria and breast milk will be safe – since there are no cavity-forming bacteria to feed!

Formula milk is detrimental to teeth – and it lacks any protective effects on teeth.

Antibiotics in Milk:
The other concern are antibiotics in our commercial milk supply. A course of antibiotics can damage the protein film that normally (in health) protects our teeth from damage and infection. I suppose there is a chance that today’s milk supply could have enough antibiotics in it to reduce or damage this film and leave teeth open to infection and erosion. I personally don’t think this is a big concern – but I am sure milk from a farm grazing cow would be better and antibiotic free.

Because of these differences between whole milk and formula milk – milk has been given a bad name with dentists. The truth is that whole milk is tooth protective. Breast milk is safe – if the baby’s mouth is clean and free from cavity-forming bacteria (use xylitol).

For the reasons above – raw milk would probably be best for teeth – with properties that promote healing teeth and no antibiotics in the supply.

This lady (in my opinion) was telling the absolute truth.


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  • Karmyn says:

    Actually human breast milk has MORE fat than cow's milk:1 cup human milk:Total fat 11g(http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/dairy-and-egg-products/95/2)1 cup cow milk:Total fat 8g(http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/dairy-and-egg-products/69/2)

  • Dr. Ellie says:

    But I believe it has more sugars?

  • Karmyn says:

    Yes human milk does contain slightly more sugar than cow's milk (17 g vs 13 g) but not signficantly more. 39% of the calories from human milk are from carbs while 30% of the calories from cow's milk are from carbs (Human milk is 55% fat and 6% protein while cow's milk is 49% fat and 21% protein).The sugar in cow's milk is lactose:http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/cgi-bin/list_nut_edit.plThe sugar in human milk:"The principal sugar of human milk is lactose but 30 or more oligosaccharides, all containing terminal Gal-(beta 1,4)-Glc and ranging from 3–14 saccharide units per molecule are also present. These may amount in the aggregate to as much as 1 g/100 ml in mature milk and 2.5 g/100 ml in colostrum. Some of them may function to control intestinal flora because of their ability to promote growth of certain strains of lactobacilli."(From http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/392766)More research needs to be done on this but it seems to me that if the milk from a cow is beneficial to human teeth then shouldn't milk from a HUMAN be beneficial to human teeth as well? If anything human milk is probably MORE beneficial to human teeth than cow's milk because it contains other sugars that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria which in turn would keep the harmful bacteria in check. I'm assuming this would also include the bacteria responsible for tooth decay and gum disease.

  • Dr. Ellie says:

    I hope we can show what you suggest – using non-biased research.I agree with you – and it is great that you have presented the facts about milk composition. Thank you.How can human breast milk be a problem? I hope we can show the reverse – but for now there are ways around the lack of knowledge – simply by wiping a baby's mouth with xylitol. In a University of Rochester study some years ago ( maybe around 2003) research on milk was carried out. The results were glamorized and then published in our local newspaper – with headlines that were something like "Breast Milk causes Tooth Decay". I was amazed and this prompted me to read the article and speak with some of the researchers- to learn more about the study results.It turns out the experiment was done on rats – that had all salivary function disabled first ( removal of salivary glands).Then these unfortunate animals were infected with the most virulent strain of strep. Mutans known to create cavities. The rats were fed cows milk, human breast milk and water ( I think were the choices – although I need to look this up again). Out of the three I believe that breast milk was found to create the most caries……… I need to look back at the study. I wrote to the paper to explain that if we eliminate the strep. Mutans from the equation – then the milk will not be the problem. Let's keep our eyes open for good studies and try to bring attention to helpful results.Thanks for all the great information,Ellie

  • Yoh says:

    I’d like to share I’ve had a lot of success with 2% pasteurized milk all my life, no cavities. i don’t believe the “raw milk” debate. Skim milk has a higher concentration of calcium and phosphorus per calorie than raw/full fat milk. I think the fat in raw milk just has more vitamin D which isn’t available through most diets in high quantities.

    • There are many components of a good diet – and I agree there is probably no room for the “one-size-fits-all” argument. If you are healthy and happy, enjoy great mouth, and general health, and live with an athletic weight and physique – I’d say that is the ultimate health goal! It’s true skim milk is fed to pigs because it makes them eat more and grow fatter – and I think that is a concern. I drink whole, non-homogenized milk, from grass fed cows, but I don’t drink a lot. Perhaps our gratitude should be for having these choices. Thanks for your message!

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