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Green Tea and Dental Health

We all know that we need to brush and floss our teeth regularly if we want to keep them healthy, but did you know that green tea can help to improve our dental health too?

Green tea has numerous qualities, but the fact that it also exhibits antibacterial qualities makes it particularly useful in the realm of tooth decay, gum disease and general dental health. We develop problems with our teeth and gums because of bacteria, and green tea could be just what we’re looking for to help stop bacteria in its tracks.

Several studies have looked into the effects of green tea on dental health, with one such study, conducted by Rasheed et al and published in the Archives of Pharmacal Research in 1998 , looking at the link between green tea and dental caries, a bacterial disease of the teeth and mouth that leads to cavities. It was found that green tea extract significantly inhibited the growth and subsequent effects of several related bacteria, showing its antibacterial qualities.

A similar study, this time conducted by You SQ in 1993, also looked at the ability of green tea to prevent dental caries with promising results . It was found that when green tea polyphenols were in contact with associated bacteria of the disease (or streptococcus mutans – the primary cause of dental cavities) for just 5 minutes, the bacteria were completely inhibited. Plaque also decreased after rinsing and brushing teeth with green tea polyphenols, showing just how effective green tea can be at preventing the condition.

There’s even evidence that green tea can be a successful treatment for oral cancer. A study by Hsu et al, published in the November 2001 edition of Biochemistry , found that just rinsing your mouth with green tea polyphenols can halt the growth of cancerous cells and in some cases can even kill oral cancer cells already there.

So how can green tea have such a marked effect on dental health? As with many of its health benefits, it largely comes down to its antioxidant qualities. Green tea contains raised levels of antioxidants (polyphenols) which not only enhance our immune system but can also be used to fight bacteria, and in the case of green tea’s effect on oral cancer that’s down to the antioxidants too. Antioxidants fight any free radicals in our body preventing them from turning cancerous, and, as Hsu at al found, can even cause cell death in those that are already cancerous.

As you can see, green tea really can be beneficial in the improvement of dental health, not only by preventing plague build-up, tooth decay and other related diseases, but it can even prevent the incidence of oral cancer. Studies continue to be conducted to confirm the effects but it can’t be denied that drinking green tea can be incredibly beneficial to your health, so make sure to have a cup of green tea after eating and see the results for yourself.

Rasheed A, Haider M Antibacterial activity of Camellia sinensis extracts against dental caries. Arch Pharm Res. 1998 Jun;21(3):348-52.
You SQ. Study on feasibility of Chinese green tea polyphenols (CTP) for preventing dental caries. Zhonghua Kou Qiang Yi Xue Za Zhi. 1993 Jul;28(4):197-9, 254.
Hsu, Singh, Lewis, Borke, Dickinson, Drake, Caughman, Schuster. Chemoprevention of Oral Cancer by Green Tea; Biochemistry 2001 Jan

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