MORE: 7 Weird Things Your Teeth Are Trying To Tell You
A study published in the journal General Dentistry found that cheese consumption—cheddar, in particular—increased saliva production and formed a protective barrier on tooth enamel. Researchers from the Academy of General Dentistry believe alteration of pH levels in the mouth are at work here—lower pH levels put people at risk for tooth erosion and cavities, while higher pH levels signify healthier teeth. After chowing on some cheddar, study participants showed a rapid increase of pH levels. But not all dairy is created equal: Milk and sugar-free yogurt showed no pH level changes in participants.
MORE: 3 , 125 Ways To Make A Pretty Spectacular Grilled Cheese
Sticky and sugary raisins seem like they'd be bad for your teeth, right? Wrong. The dried grapes may actually improve your oral health, according to researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago's College of Dentistry. The study, presented at an annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, found that oleanolic acid—a compound found in Thompson seedless raisins—may prevent the growth of two types of oral bacteria: Streptococcus mutans, which causes cavities, and Porphyromonas gingivalis, which causes periodontal disease. In addition to its cavity-fighting M.O., oleanic acid also protects teeth from plaque build-up.
MORE: 6 Mistakes You Make Every Time You Brush Your Teeth
This sweet, juicy tropical fruit can do a number on your mouth if you eat too much of it, but the same enzyme in pineapple that makes your tongue feel like sandpaper could also whiten your teeth. A study published in the International Journal of Dental Hygiene found that bromelain—an enzyme derived from the fruit, stem, and leaves of pineapple—may break down stains on the surface of teeth without harmful, abrasive effects to the enamel. In fact, teeth-whitening toothpastes with natural enymes (like bromelain and papain) have better whitening effects than more abrasive toothpaste formulas that include whitening ingredients like perlite or calcium carbonate.