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Back to Chocolate Milk and Health

Chocolate Milk and Dental Health

Current evidence indicates that, when consumed in moderation, flavoured milk – including chocolate milk – has a low cariogenic potential.

The ability of sugar to promote tooth decay is affected by how frequent sugar and sugar-containing foods are consumed and how long they remain in the mouth.1-5

Since flavoured milk is a liquid, it is rapidly cleared from tooth surfaces and may therefore be less likely to cause tooth decay.2-6

Milk (including flavoured milk) also contains components that may be protective against dental caries.3,7-12 A study conducted at the University of Rochester found that 2% milk containing as much as 10% added sugar (i.e., the amount in chocolate milk) was no more cariogenic than 2% milk without sugar.7 Also, 2% milk with 10% added sugar was less cariogenic than water with 10% sucrose which indicates that some components in milk may be protective.7,8 Moreover, some earlier studies have found that cocoa powder is noncariogenic.9,10

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, ”there is evidence that foods containing milk casein, calcium, phosphorus, and cocoa, all of which are found in chocolate milk, may be less likely to contribute to dental caries than sucrose alone or other snack foods.”12

The evidence to date indicates that, when consumed in moderation, flavoured milk, including chocolate milk, has a low cariogenic potential.


  1. The American Dietetic Association. Position of the American Dietetic Association: use of nutritive and nonnutritive sweeteners. J Am Diet Assoc 1998;98(5):580-7.
  2. Konig KG and Navia JM. Nutritional role of sugars in oral health. Am J Clin Nutr 1995;62 (suppl):275S-83S.
  3. Miller GD et al. Handbook of Dairy Foods and Nutrition. Second edition. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2000:291-310.
  4. Jensen ME. Diet and dental caries. Dent Clin North Am 1999;43(4):615-33.
  5. National Dairy Council. A protective effect of dairy foods in oral health. Dairy Council Digest.
  6. Palmer CA. Important relationships between diet, nutrition, and oral health. Nutr Clin Care 2001;4(1):4-14.
  7. Bowen WH and Pearson SK. Effect of milk on cariogenesis. Caries Res 1993;27(6):461-6.
  8. Bowen WH et al. Assessing the cariogenic potential of some infant formulas, milk and sugar solutions. J Am Dent Assoc 1997;128(7):865-71.
  9. Stralfors A. Inhibition of hamster caries by cocoa. The effect of whole and defatted cocoa, and the absence of activity in cocoa fat. Arch Oral Biol 1966;11(2):149-61.
  10. Paolino VJ and Kashket S. Inhibition of cocoa extracts of biosynthesis of extracellular polysaccharide by human oral bacteria. Arch Oral Biol 1985;30(4):359-63.
  11. Nunn J. Nutrition and dietary challenges in oral health. Nutrition 2001;17(5):426-7.
  12. Levine RS. Milk, flavoured milk products, and caries. Br Dent J 2001;191(1):20.

Keywords: dental health , tooth decay , chocolate milk , flavoured milk , children’s diet , health studies

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