As Portlanders embrace natural and alternative medicine, we at East Portland Dentistry like to point our patients to organic foods and drinks that promote oral health. While many people know and appreciate that the antioxidants in tea provide cardiovascular and neurological benefits, tea’s connection to oral health is perhaps less widely known. In recent studies, green tea extract inhibited the growth of certain bacteria associated with dental caries (tooth decay) and periodontitis (gum disease). A 2010 study revealed that consuming a minimum of one cup of green tea per day significantly reduced the risk for tooth loss. Oolong tea is also effective in decreasing dental caries, as it wards off the corrosive enzyme that attaches to tooth enamel. Beyond its potential to inhibit tooth decay and gum disease, a 2013 in vitro study revealed that green tea diminishes the development of oral squamous cell carcinoma cells. Black tea has been proven effective at reducing precancerous lesions.
Please consult with Dr. Joy Arend at East Portland Dentistry for further details about tea’s oral health properties.
While tea boosts oral health, consumption may lead to tooth discoloration, as the tannins in tea (like coffee) increase chromogens’ ability to adhere to tooth enamel. We encourage you to brush your teeth twice daily and to get professional bi-annual cleanings to reduce tooth discoloration. Additionally, we wish to note that another negative effect of tea consumption relates to tea’s fluoride content. Black tea (regular strength tea) contains high fluoride levels–6.5 ppm, exceeding the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended level of 1.2ppm. Tea’s high fluoride levels potentially increase the risk for fluorosis (overexposure to fluoride) and developmental tooth defects. Please note, however, that fluorosis only occurs in children under the age of ten, and generally, children are not heavy tea drinkers. Still, we caution parents against allowing young children to regularly consume black tea.
Portland Oregon dentist Dr. Arend will be happy to discuss the positives and negatives of tea consumption when you visit East Portland Dentistry.