Is Green Tea Good for Oral Health?

March 26, 2018

Is Green Tea Good for Oral Health?

woman, green tea, drinking, healthy, happyAlong with a consistent, quality daily regimen–think brushing and flossing–as well as taking supplements to rebuild and restore a healthy bacterial mix in your mouth, your eating and drinking habits have a profound relationship to good oral health.

If you are looking to improve your oral health then a cup or two of green tea is something you should consider adding to your daily diet.

And, although it does contain caffeine, it has far less caffeine than coffee and there are even natural components in green tea that offset the “nerves and jitters” and can actually produce a calmer state of mind.

The beneficial effects of green tea are so numerous that we cannot even begin to cover them all here. So, we will focus on the relationship between green tea and working to improve and control the bacteria in your mouth and so in turn improve your periodontal health.

Green Tea, Why Does It Work?

Before we bury you in a sea of technical terms, we are going to LIGHTLY define a few terms that you will need to know in order to understand the science here.

We are going to keep these very simple, so pardon us in advance if we miss some scientific points here. You can always dig deeper on the web, but for here and now we just want you to understand the gist of the terms.

  • Polyphenol: simply a compound found in plants. Polyphenols assist a plant in many functions such as defense against ultraviolet radiation and fighting off pathogens (diseases sources like viruses). In humans, studies have shown that a diet high in plant polyphenols is great for protection against cancer, heart disease, bone loss and many other ills. We get polyphenols from fruits, vegetables and other plant-derived foods. 
  • Catechins: these are just a type of polyphenol. Teas, particularly green tea, are rich in catechins. One catechin in particular, with the mouth-bending name “epigallocatechin gallate” or EGCg, is proving to be extremely beneficial to humans–such as helping to reduce body fat and cardiovascular risk. 
  • gingivalis: simply a type of bacteria found in the mouth that plays a significant role in the development of periodontal disease. 
  • Bone resorption: the process of bone being absorbed into the circulation system, a fancy word for bone loss

Whew… if you made it this far, then you are a trooper and are serious about better oral health.

Periodontal Disease and Green Tea Extract (GTE)

Over 20 years ago, a group of Japanese researchers did a clinical study to observe whether green tea might inhibit the growth of the “bad” bacteria in your mouth. They chose the bacteria P. gingivalis, due to its involvement with periodontal disease, and measured whether a green tea extract (GTE) would have an effect on the bacterial growth. The results were pretty convincing as they found that the GTE completely inhibited the growth of p. gingivalis. The researchers attributed the effectiveness to the beneficial power of the catechins in the tea. 

One of the aspects of periodontal disease is bone resorption (bone loss). The teeth lose their minerals and organic parts, which is certainly not a good thing. A study done by Korean researchers in 2004 found that the catechins EGCg had a powerful inhibitory effect upon the active elements in how this bone loss process expresses itself. Without going into the deep science of it, there are things that cause the bone loss and the green tea catechins worked to inhibit those very things from working. In simple words, the catechins threw a wrench into the workings of bone resorption in your mouth, pretty amazing stuff for an everyday product. 

Now, both of these above studies involved green tea extracts, but another study was done in 2009 by Japanese scientists to examine if the daily intake of green tea, just drinking it, was a factor in improving oral health. They determined the state of oral health by analyzing three things: 

  • Bleeding on probing
  • Probing depth (just like your hygienist does every six months)
  • Clinical attachment loss (this is the main indicator of periodontal disease and has to do with how well the teeth are attached to the bone and surrounding tissue) 

The scientists studied a group of 940 men, examined each of the three factors above and noted their daily intake of green tea. 

The results were significan. They found that the higher the daily consumption of green was then the lower the indicators of periodontal disease were (more daily tea=better oral numbers). 

Or as they put it: 

“There was a modest inverse association between the intake of green tea and periodontal disease” 

Simply put, daily green tea consumption contributed to better oral health. (And before you knock the word “modest” please note that modest improvements over time add up to beneficial health, just as modest destruction adds up over time as well.) 

Should You Drink Green Tea for Better Oral Health? 

In conclusion, along with daily oral care, scientific studies show that the daily intake of green tea is related to improved oral health. And this is just one of many, many benefits associated with drinking green tea. 

So, it certainly makes sense to brew a cup or two each day. Aside from healthier teeth and gums you might even lose a few pounds–a good reason to smile!

Some further references:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3459493/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15324350

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17557985

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19254120/