Soy Milk vs. Cow’s Milk: Which is Better for Your Teeth?

glass of milkIn China, Japan, and other parts of Asia, soy milk has long been a staple beverage. In the modern world, soy serves as the alternative-of-choice for many foods that some people may refrain from out of dietary, religious, and/or moral obligations. For instance, as a beverage, soy milk can replace cow’s milk for people who are lactose intolerant, or cannot consume dairy for other reasons. Some people, however, substitute cow’s milk with soy milk merely from belief that it is healthier for you. This voluntary substitution begs the question of whether soy milk is better for your dental health than cow’s milk, so your Southlake dentists, Dr. Wright and Dr. Heron, examine the two from your mouth’s point of view.

Cow’s Milk and Your Teeth

For generations, the benefits of milk to the human body have been well-known and thoroughly touted. Milk’s calcium content helps your bones grow and remain strong, and the plethora of other minerals and nutrients found in the beverage supply the rest of your body with necessary nourishment. Your tooth enamel, the strong protective outer layer of your tooth, is comprised of calcium, as well as other minerals also found in milk. When your enamel is attacked, mainly by acidic food or by bacteria-produced acid, it becomes weak until it can no longer protect your teeth from infection. Unfortunately, calcium is not produced naturally in the body, and we must consume it in our food and beverages to attain healthy levels. Because enamel is the most mineralized substance in the body, it can strengthen itself after an acid attack by absorbing more minerals. Drinking cow’s milk rich in calcium and phosphate can help strengthen your teeth and protect against cavity-causing tooth decay.

Soy Milk and Your Teeth

While soy milk contains a wealth of healthy and necessary nutrients, it contains significantly less soluble calcium, which means it is not as effective at benefiting your bones and teeth. In a study conducted by Australian researchers, the ability of both milks, cow and soy, to protect against tooth decay was measured with the help of Streptococcus mutans, a notorious acid-producing oral bacterium. The results of the study indicate that S. mutans produce five to six times more acid when consuming soy milk than they do from cow milk consumption. Soy milk’s lower levels of soluble calcium also mean it has a lessened capability to nourish your tooth enamel after acid attacks, which increases your risk of tooth decay and cavities.


As a native Texan, Gregory Wright, DDS, opened his private practice in Southlake, TX in 1992. He and Dr. Victoria Heron are happily accepting new patients from Southlake, Grapevine, Keller, Trophy Club, Colleyville, and all surrounding communities. To learn more, call our office today at (817) 481-7999.