Green tea may well be a treat for your taste buds, but new research is suggesting that it benefits the rest of your oral cavity as well. Green tea contains compounds that appear to control inflammation and fight bacterial infection. This drink is also rich in antioxidants, which have many health properties. So what does that mean for your mouth? Here are five reasons why green tea may be good for your oral health.
Green tea contains catechin, an antioxidant substance that reduces inflammation in the body. A study conducted in Japan, and recently reported in the Journal of Periodontology, examined the periodontal health of 940 subjects aged 49 to 59. Subjects who regularly drank green tea had ‘superior’ periodontal health, compared to those that did not. Three indicators of periodontal disease—pocket depth, loss of gum tissue attachment, and gum bleeding when probed—were examined for all study participants. The green-tea drinkers showed better results on all three indicators, meaning they had a lower incidence of periodontal disease. And, these benefits increased with each additional cup of green tea taken on a daily basis. A German study found similar positive results in people who were asked to chew sugar-free lollies containing green-tea extracts. This research underpins our 5 benefits to oral health with green tea…
1. Gum health
Periodontal disease is a chronic inflammation in response to bacteria in the mouth, and it damages the gums and bone structure supporting the teeth. Green tea’s ability to reduce inflammation appears to ward off the periodontal disease process and thereby enhance the health of your gums and teeth. Recent research has linked periodontal disease to other conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, so this can benefit the patient’s overall health as well.
2. Cavity prevention
Because green tea controls bacteria and lowers the acidity of saliva and dental plaque, it may be a useful tool in preventing cavities. A recent Egypt-based study tested people before and after they gave their mouths a five-minute rinse with green tea. The test subjects had less bacteria and acid in their mouths, as well as reduced gum bleeding. Other research has found that drinking green tea shows promise when it comes to preventing tooth decay.
3. Less tooth loss
It makes sense that a substance that helps prevent cavities and gum disease will help you keep your teeth. But in case you need proof – further periodontal research published in Japan in 2010 concluded that men and women who drink one or more cups of green tea a day were more likely to hold on to their natural teeth.
4. Cancer control
The antioxidants and other properties of green tea appear to protect against cellular damage and cancerous tumour growth. In one study at the University of Texas, green-tea extract was given to patients with precancerous lesions in their mouths, and it slowed the progression to oral cancer. Animal studies have also found that tea compounds can inhibit cancer growth.
5. Better breath
Green tea has been associated with better-smelling breath. This is because it kills the microbes that make our mouths smell. The University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Dentistry measured the level of smelly compounds in people’s mouths after they were given green-tea powder or another substance that supposedly helps with bad breath. Green tea outperformed mints, chewing gum and even parsley-seed oil in this study.
Green tea enthusiasts prefer to drink it the classic way, with loose tea leaves steeped in a pot and served hot but it also makes a refreshing summer drink when served cold. Avoid adding sugar or flavours to the tea —once you get used to the mild taste, you’ll find it delicious on its own. Also avoid the bottled drinks based on green tea—these contain sugar and other additives that can damage teeth; and because of their long shelf life it’s doubtful that any antioxidant content remains.
Green tea, like all other types of tea can cause some mild staining of your teeth, but don’t worry—our hygienist at Bite Dental will take care of those at your regular check-ups! That’s why we take the time to allow for thorough polishing and cleansing at our recall appointments so you can continue to enjoy the good stuff!