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牛乳
牛乳

寝る前は虫歯になる!?牛乳を飲む時の3つの注意点

牛乳

カルシウムが豊富に含まれている牛乳は是非とも毎日飲んでおきたい飲み物です。

日本ではとくに、「お風呂上がりに冷たい牛乳」という習慣がありますが、その牛乳が虫歯につながるかもしれないのです。

というのも、牛乳に含まれる乳糖によって虫歯が引き起こされる可能性があるからです。

ここでは、牛乳と虫歯の関係について説明していきます。

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虫歯ができるメカニズム

虫歯

虫歯は何が原因でできるものなのでしょうか。虫歯の原因とメカニズムについて説明します。

虫歯菌とは

一般的に虫歯菌と呼ばれるものは、正式名称をミュータンス菌という細菌のことです。

ミュータンス菌は口内に存在し、糖を栄養として酸を作ります。この酸によって歯の成分であるカルシウムやリンが溶かされ、虫歯となります。

生まれたばかりの赤ちゃんにはこのミュータンス菌は存在しませんが、周囲の人から食事などを通して口内へと入ってきます。

虫歯になりやすい歯

歯の質によって、虫歯になりやすい歯となりにくい歯があります。何が違うのかというと、歯の基礎となるタンパク質や石灰化に必要なカルシウムやリン、さらにビタミンなどの栄養素をきちんと摂れているか、良質なものを摂れているかによって変わってきます。

特に歯がつくられる時の状態が大きく影響してきますので、母親が妊娠中から授乳期にかけてしっかりと栄養バランスのとれた食事をしていたかどうか、小さいうちから栄養バランスの整った食生活をしていたかどうかが大切となります。

酸が歯を溶かして虫歯になる

食事に含まれる糖がミュータンス菌のえさとなり、歯の表面を溶かす原因となります。主に砂糖が大きな原因となりますが、ご飯やお肉、もちろん牛乳にも糖質は含まれています。

ミュータンス菌が酸を作ったとしても、歯の再石灰化によって虫歯を防ぐことはできますが、間食が多いと口内が常に酸性になってしまい、再石灰化が追いつかなくなります。間食にはジュースや飴なども含まれます。

牛乳と虫歯の関係

虫歯になるメカニズムはわかりましたが、では牛乳を飲むことは虫歯を助長することになるのでしょうか。

牛乳はカルシウムが豊富

牛乳には5大栄養素や必須アミノ酸が含まれており、栄養としてはとても重要な飲み物です。カルシウムについても、牛肉や卵などと比較しても多く含まれています。虫歯に強い質の良い歯を作るためには欠かせない飲み物であるといえます。

牛乳に含まれる糖質

牛乳の中には「乳糖」という糖質が含まれています。個人差がありますが、乳糖はほかの糖と比較すると口内のPhが下がりにくい(=酸性になりにくい)性質があります。

しかし、夜寝る前に牛乳を飲み、そのままの状態で眠ってしまうと、口内に乳糖が残ったままになってしまいます。就寝時は口内の働きも悪くなってしまうため、ミュータンス菌が酸を作り出しやすくなります。

牛乳を飲むタイミング

歯科医師や研究者のなかには、牛乳は朝食時に飲むべきであって夜には飲むべきでないとする考えもあります。栄養としては摂りたいものですが、夜に飲むと虫歯になりやすくなってしまうことがあるからです。

普段から寝る前に牛乳を飲むという習慣がある人は、きちんと口内を綺麗にする習慣をプラスするようにしましょう。牛乳は大丈夫なんて思わずしっかりと歯磨きをして、口内に糖を残さないようにしてください。

また、夜寝る前に限らず、普段から牛乳を飲んだあとはうがいをするなどして、口内に牛乳・乳糖が残らないような工夫をしておくといいでしょう。

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アフターケアをしっかりと

以上、牛乳と虫歯の関係について説明させていただきました。牛乳を飲む時の注意点は以下の3つです。

  1. 飲んだまま寝ない
  2. 飲んだあとは歯磨きをする
  3. 日中でも飲んだあとはうがいをする

栄養素の豊富な牛乳であっても、ちゃんとした知識をもって意識しておかないと虫歯を作る原因となってしまうかもしれません。牛乳には、歯の生成、再石灰化に必要不可欠な栄養素であるカルシウムを豊富に含んでいるため、普段から是非飲んでもらいたいものです。飲んだあとのアフターケアをしっかり行って乳頭を口内に残さないようにすることで、ミュータンス菌によって酸が作り出されることを防ぎ、虫歯になることのないようにすることができます。

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