Green tea is like liquid medicine. Besides having a plethora of body-related health benefits, it's also extremely good for your teeth, gums and smile.

iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Forget the apples. A cup or two of green tea a day will keep both the doctor and the dentist away! While it's well known that green tea is good for your heart and promotes weight loss, did you know that it's also the beverage of choice for keeping your smile healthy?

All true teas -- including black, green and oolong varieties -- are made from the buds or leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant (herbal teas are made from herbs). However, when it comes to making green tea, the leaves of the plant are minimally processed and are not fermented -- as they are in most other varieties -- so they retain more beneficial properties than other forms of tea. These benefits include higher levels of antioxidants (which help fight cancer, heart disease and possibly even the aging process itself), and this variety of tea is thought to help ward off obesity and lower cholesterol.

Not surprisingly, many of the same properties that benefit your body also help improve the health of your mouth (which we'll discuss in more detail on the next page), but one of the main perks for your teeth when it comes to green tea is not what it is, but what it isn't. Drinking green tea instead of sodas and fruit juices can greatly improve the longevity of your teeth. Soda and fruit juices are highly acidic and contribute to the breakdown of the surface of your teeth. Green tea, on the other hand, is as gentle to your teeth as tap water.

This is a big deal, as the erosive nature of sodas and fruit drinks wear away at your enamel, which serves as your teeth's protective covering. Of course, we all need to knock back a flavored beverage every once in a while, but swapping out an acidic drink for green tea can really save your enamel, which is your first and main line of defense against everything from cavities to tooth decay.

Green tea has more going on for it than what it's not. Read the next page to find out why drinking green tea can do more than improve your smile -- it can save your teeth themselves.