Introduction – The relationship between diet and oral health is intriguing. Various components of milk have been suggested to be protective against oral health problems, although specific mechanisms linking dairy components to the pathogenesis of certain diseases are still unclear.
Purpose – To provide an overview of the associations between intake of milk and dairy products and dental plaque, periodontal disease and tooth loss, based on currently available literature. Method – We performed a review of relevant literature with critical appraisal of those human epidemiological studies evaluating the association between intake of milk or dairy products and periodontal disease, plaque score or tooth loss among adults and elderly.
Results – Nine studies were included in the review, eight of which were cross-sectional and only one applied a longitudinal design. None of the studies included institutionalised participants. Overall, reported studies suggested an inverse association between dairy intake and plaque score and periodontal disease. Results related to tooth loss were inclusive.
Conclusion – The methodological quality of reviewed studies was moderate to low with only one longitudinal design. Therefore, welldesigned, confounding-controlled, longitudinal studies are warranted to be able to evaluate the potential protective effect of dairy intake on periodontal disease, dental plaque and tooth loss.