Enamel rehardening with cheese in irradiated patients.

M. Sela*, I. Gedalia, L. Shah, Z. Skobe, S. Kashket, I. Lewinstein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Radiotherapy of head and neck malignancies results in severe xerostomia which induces radiation caries. Hard cheese has potent anti-cariogenic effects, even with minimal salivary gland function. Eight patients irradiated for neck cancer volunteered for this study. The saliva flow rate varied between 0.0-0.15 ml/minute. In vitro etched enamel slabs, prepared from human teeth, were exposed intraorally to parafilm stimulated salivary secretion for 5 minutes or, alternatively, to cheese compounds and saliva due to masticating 20 gm hard cheese for 5 minutes. Microhardness measurements were carried out on the enamel surface at start (baseline), after etching and after rehardening. Stimulated saliva or cheese compounds and saliva, due to mastication, induced rehardening of surface enamel in both, non-irradiated and irradiated subjects. The rehardening was significantly increased in the irradiated group consuming cheese as compared to rehardening by stimulated saliva only and not significantly less of that achieved in non-irradiated subjects. Rehardening achieved with stimulated saliva in irradiated patients was of a borderline-significant lower degree in comparison to non-irradiated subjects. The reduced rehardening capacity of a decreased saliva flow in irradiated patients may be complemented by cheese compounds. For xerostomic patients, hard cheese consumption may be regarded as effective to keep initial caries under control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-136
Number of pages3
JournalAmerican Journal of Dentistry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1994
Externally publishedYes


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