By Chelsea Karnash

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – If you dread going to the dentist, you might want to start eating more cheese. Yes, cheese.

That’s according to new research from the Academy of General Dentistry that shows consuming cheese and other dairy may help prevent cavities.

The research, which was published in the May/June 2013 issue of General Dentistry, sampled 68 teens between the ages of 12 and 15 and examined the dental plaque pH inside the subject’s mouths before and after they consumed dairy products.

The subjects were divided into three groups – the first group ate cheddar cheese, the second drank milk and the third ate sugar-free yogurt. Each group ate for three minutes then swished water before researchers measured the pH of their mouths at 10, 20 and 30 minutes after consumption.

Surprisingly, only the subjects that ate the cheese showed a rapid increase in pH level over the time period; the other two groups had no change in pH.

Researchers say a pH of less than 5.5 puts people at risk for developing cavities, and that it appears the adherent properties of cheese and the chewing required to break it down may help protect tooth enamel.

In short, a piece of cheese a day may keep the dentist away.