Someone once said, “you are what you eat,” and for some reason that phrase is still around today. No, you are not quite literally a carrot, a turkey, a glass of apple juice or anything else you eat, but what you eat does inherently effect the health of your gums and teeth. Throughout your life, you’ve heard endlessly about the foods that cause cavities, but did you know there are plenty of foods that can actually help you improve your oral health?

We recently discussed how genetics play a role in tooth decay, more so than previously thought. But regardless of whether you have a predisposition for tooth decay or not, it’d be wise for everyone to up their intake of these 7 foods and beverages to boost oral health:

#1 Cheese

Calcium and lactic acid work to strengthen enamel and prevent tooth decay by raising the pH level in peoples’ mouths. A 2013 study published by General Dentistry found that participants who were given cheese had a rapid pH increase in their mouths, which suggests anti-cavity properties.

A spokesperson for the Academy of General Dentistry advocates that dairy products are a healthy alternative to carb- and sugar-filled snacks.

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#2 Red Wine

Enjoy a nice glass of red with that cheese platter you’ll now be snacking on! The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that a young Pinot Noir or a non-alcoholic version of the wine can rid your mouth of dental disease causing bacteria.

The ethanol in wine is known to be antimicrobial, however the non-alcoholic wine was also effective, indicating that other aspects of wine could contain antimicrobial properties. So for all you young professionals in Philadelphia, be sure to raise a glass of red at your next happy hour!

#3 Green Tea/Black Tea

Tea has the ability to absorb fluoride, which helps protect against tooth erosion (note: tap water will yield a higher amount of this mineral in your mug). Consuming tea also helps fight acid levels, bacteria and glucosyltransferase (enzyme that helps plaque stick to teeth).

The British Nutrition Foundation wrote in their 2013 Nutrition Bulletin that drinking 3-4 cups of tea a day helps prevent adhesion and growth of bacteria in the mouth, as well as reduce inflammation. This inevitably protects against tooth loss.

#4 Steak

T-bone, New York strip, rib eye, filet mignon, medium well or rare—it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you eat more steak! The American Dental Association endorses red meat because of its phosphorus levels. Phosphorus works to protect tooth enamel and bone. Not to mention chewing on a tender piece of steak strengthens jaw muscles and the more you chew, the stronger and cleaner your teeth will be (according to journal PlOS One).

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#5 Milk

The Journal of the American Dental Association found that a glass of milk could lower levels of acid in the mouth after consuming the dry, sugar-sweetened cereal known as Fruit Loops. However, adding milk to cereal does not benefit your teeth. It’s important to follow up your bowl of cereal, or sweet dessert, with a fresh glass of milk

#6 Cranberries

Similar to tea, cranberries contain polyphenols which help prevent plaque from sticking to teeth. Keeping plaque off of teeth lowers the risk of cavities, according to the Journal of Caries Research.

Note: Many cranberry flavored products contain sweeteners to offset tartness, which can counteract any oral health benefits of cranberries. It’d be best to stick with natural, fresh cranberries.

#7 Gummy Bears

If you or your kids have a sweet tooth, gummy bears, specifically xylitol gummy bears, may be one of your best bets. BMC Oral Health found that children who ate gummy bears three times a day had less plaque and bacteria in their mouths than their counterparts did. Results suggest that xylitol gummy bears can be considered a more kid friendly alternative to xylitol chewing gum, in terms of dental cavity prevention.

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By implementing oral healthy food and drink in your diet, you can potentially reduce the risk of cavities and increase your overall oral health. In addition to consuming oral healthy items, be sure to keep up on your brushing and don’t forget to schedule your 6 month recall: 215-564-1025!