So, how good is green tea for the health of your teeth and mouth? A study in the Journal of Periodontology found that those who regularly drank green tea had superior periodontal health than those who consumed the tea less often. There are several reasons for this, but one of the biggest is the fact that, like a good scrubbing with your toothbrush, green tea helps fight plaque.
Green tea contains polyphenols -- a unique kind of antioxidant that's thought to hold substantial health benefits -- which work to break down the bacteria that cause plaque and cavities. Unchecked plaque can lead to gingivitis, which can progress to periodontal disease, also known as periodontitis.
Luckily, green tea helps ward off both these diseases, too. Its ample supply of catechins -- a kind of polyphenol -- works to limit and regress physical inflammations. This is good news for people with either gingivitis or periodontal disease, as inflammation of the gums is a common symptom of both ailments. Periodontitis is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults, so by helping to combat the disease, green tea is doing more than improving your grin, it's literally saving your smile itself.
But green tea can do more than help keep your teeth in their sockets. One of the most serious potential side effects of periodontitis occurs when bacteria associated with the disease enter the blood stream and travel to other areas of the body. Evidence suggests that this may lead to ailments as serious as heart disease and diabetes, so by helping combat periodontitis, the catechins in green tea may also be working to save your life. We must stress, however, that drinking green tea is no substitute for a proper dental hygiene, and if you think you have gingivitis or periodontal disease, make an appointment to see your dentist right away.
Green tea is more than the key to healthy smile. It's like liquid medicine for your mouth and body, but because it tastes so good, you'll never have to hold your nose!
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- BBC News. "Tea Good For Teeth." BBC.com. May 22, 2001. (Sept. 11, 2011) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/1344892.stm
- Edgar, Julie. "Health Benefits of Green Tea." WebMD. 2011. (Sept. 28, 2011) http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/health-benefits-of-green-tea
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- Kushiyama, Mitoshi, et al. "Relationships Between Intake of Green Tea and Periodontal Disease." Journal of Periodontology Online. Mar. 2009. (Sept. 11, 2011) http://www.joponline.org/doi/abs/10.1902/jop.2009.080510
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- Science Daily. "Drink Green Tea for Healthy Teeth and Gums." Science Daily. Mar. 13, 2009. (Sept. 28, 2011) http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090305183128.htm
- Stephens, Anastasia. "Plaque busters: How olive oil, chewing gum and green tea can prevent the build-up of bacteria." Daily Mail. May 8, 2010. (Sept. 28, 2011) http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1275342/Plaque-Busters-How-olive-oil-chewing-gum-green-tea-prevent-build-bacteria.html
- Suzuki, Jun-ichi and Mitsuaki Isobe, Ryuichi Morishita and Ryozo Nagai."Tea Polyphenols Regulate Key Mediators on Inflammatory Cardiovascular Diseases." Mediators of Inflammation. 2009. (Sept. 28, 2011) http://www.hindawi.com/journals/mi/2009/494928/
- University of Maryland Medical Center. "Green Tea." September 2010 (Sept. 11, 2011) http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/green-tea-000255.htm
- WebMD. "Gingivitis and Periodontal Disease (Gum Disease). WebMD. 2011. (Sept. 11, 2011) http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/gingivitis-periodontal-disease