Milk/Cheese.

Chalk full of calcium, it’s no surprise that consuming dairy products are a huge win for dental care. Drinking milk makes your teeth stronger and protects tooth enamel. It also strengthens your jaw bone, which can help you keep your natural teeth longer, and fights tooth decay. For children, expectant mothers and women in general, milk is especially important. Children—from infancy through high school—need ample amounts of calcium and phosphorus for bone and teeth development. And for women who are pre- or post-menopausal, drinking milk is an excellent defense against osteoporosis.

Raw Vegetables/Fruit.

Raw produce is not only incredibly nutritious and low in calories, the “crunch” factor helps produce saliva. Saliva acts as a buffer in your mouth, discouraging the development of bacteria and teeth plaque. The water content in fresh produce can also dilute any sugars that these foods contain, providing further protection against cavities.

Tea.

While tea often leads to stained teeth that require whitening, not all is bad about the brewed beverage; black and green teas both contain polyphenols that interact with plaque bacteria. These substances either kill or hold back bacteria. This prevents bacteria from growing or making acid that attacks teeth. Depending on the type of water you use to brew your tea, a cup of tea can also be a source of fluoride.

Red Meat.

Meats that are red in color when raw are defined as “red meats.” This generally includes beef, lamb, mutton, pork, veal, goat, venison, and other red or processed meats from similar land mammals. Red meat is an excellent source of zinc and iron, and can help the body produce selenium, a powerful antioxidant. It has also been found to strengthen teeth, reduce the risk of decay, and promote an overall healthier smile.

Fruits.

You likely assume that dried fruits are a healthy snack. That may be true, but many dried fruits — apricots, prunes, figs, and raisins, to name a few — are sticky. They get stuck and cling in the teeth and their crevices, leaving behind lots of sugar. If you do like to eat dried fruits, make sure you rinse your mouth with water, and then brush and floss after. And because they’re less concentrated with sugar, it is a better choice to eat the fresh versions instead!

Chips.

The crunch of a potato chip is eternally satisfying to many of us. Unfortunately, they’re loaded with starch, which becomes sugar that can get trapped in and between the teeth and feed the bacteria in the plaque. Since we rarely have just one, the acid production from the chips lingers and lasts awhile. After you’ve gorged on a bag, floss to remove the trapped particles.

Citrus Fruits.

Oranges, grapefruits, and lemons are tasty as both fruits and juices, and are packed with vitamin C. But their acid content can erode enamel, making teeth more vulnerable to decay. Even squeezing a lemon or lime into water adds acid to a drink. Plus, acid from citrus can be bothersome to mouth sores. If you want to get a dose of their antioxidants and vitamins, eat and drink them in moderation at mealtime and rinse with water afterward.

Soda.

We all know that little, if any, good comes from soda or pop, even if it’s got the word “diet” on the can. A recent studyTrusted Source even found that drinking large quantities of carbonated soda could be as damaging to your teeth as using methamphetamine and crack cocaine. Carbonated sodas enable plaque to produce more acid to attack tooth enamel. So if you sip soda all day, you’re essentially coating your teeth in acid. Plus it dries out your mouth, meaning you have less saliva. And last but not least, dark-colored sodas can discolor or stain your teeth. A note: don’t brush your teeth immediately after drinking a soda; this could actually hasten decay.

Alcohol.

We all know that drinking alcohol isn’t exactly healthy. But did you realize that when you drink, you dry out your mouth? A dry mouth lacks saliva, which we need to keep our teeth healthy. Saliva prevents food from sticking to your teeth and washes away food particles. It even helps repair early signs of tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral infections. To help keep your mouth hydrated, drink plenty of water and use fluoride rinses and oral hydration solutions.

Bread.

Think twice as you walk down the supermarket bread aisle. When you chew bread, your saliva breaks down the starches into sugar. Now transformed into a gummy paste-like substance, the bread sticks to the crevices between teeth. And that can cause cavities. When you’re craving some carbs, aim for less-refined varieties like whole wheat. These contain less added sugars and aren’t as easily broken down.