Despite all we know about dental care, it seems as though many Americans are still in the dark about the ways that certain foods affect oral health. We all know that brushing and flossing is essential to maintaining a healthy mouth, but what about the foods we eat in between these habits? The fact is, at least one in five Americans has one or more untreated cavities. While it’s always essential to maintain healthy oral hygiene habits like brushing and flossing, it’s easier than you think to take your efforts one step further and incorporate some healthy foods into your diet that are known to contribute to oral health. Without further ado, here are just a few foods to consider adding to your diet to improve oral health.

Fibrous Fruits

Some people are under the impression that the sugar content of fruits only hurts oral health, but that’s not exactly the case, especially for fruits that are rich in fiber. Apples, oranges, and all sorts of berries are known for being some of the most fibrous fruits. You can check out a list of the fruits with the highest fiber contents here. Keep in mind that fruits are often ideal for children who may still be picky eaters. Children with poor oral health are three times more likely to miss school as a result of dental pain, so taking the time to help them discover which high-fiber fruits they like will give you the chance to incorporate it into their diet more often.

Dairy Products with Vitamin D

It’s no secret that many dairy products help to contribute to a healthy mouth, but there’s actually more than one reason this is true. First, dairy products assist with the production of saliva, which is inherently healthy for the mouth. But more importantly, dairy products are rich in vitamin D, which can help to restore certain minerals in the mouth.

“The calcium in cheese, and the calcium and phosphates in milk and other dairy products, help put back minerals your teeth might have lost due to other foods,” writes URMC.

As an added benefit, some studies have even shown that the vitamin D present in dairy products can help to combat symptoms of asthma. The likelihood that allergic rhinitis or asthma will spontaneously go away is approximately 1% per year, so if anyone in your family suffers from allergies or asthma, vitamin D may prove to be even more helpful for them.

Black or Green Tea

Finally, incorporating some more green and black tea into your diet can also help to improve oral health. These teas are filled with compounds called polyphenols, which have a surprising effect on plaque.

“Both [green and black tea] contain polyphenols that interact with plaque bacteria. These substances either kill or hold back bacteria. This prevents them from growing or producing 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,” writes URMC.

Ultimately, keeping this list in mind when planning family meals can help improve oral health and may even save you a trip to the dentist. According to a 2017 Kaufman Hall survey, one-quarter of U.S. health systems say they hope to decrease costs by 1% to 5% over the next five years, but you can’t put a price on good oral hygiene. Don’t hesitate to talk to your dentist about the best foods to incorporate into your diet to improve oral health.