Wait, Is Green Tea Good Or Bad For Teeth?

cup of green tea

Do you love green tea? Health gurus everywhere typically love the antioxidant benefits that it has to offer. But is green tea bad for your teeth? Do the benefits of green tea outweigh any risks to your smile?

As the old saying goes, sometimes it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. Your love for green tea and how it impacts your teeth may be the perfect example. Especially if you’re drinking 3-5 cups of it a day, which is what a lot of people think you need to achieve better mental clarity and/or weight loss benefits.

Is It Good Or Is It Bad….Well, It’s Actually Both.

Is green tea good for your mouth? It can be, yes. Is green tea bad for your teeth? Also, sometimes yes. What do we mean by that?

A lot of the time people add other things to their tea. Like honey, sweeteners, etc. And how often you’re sipping on the tea will also lengthen the contact time that the liquid has on your teeth. So hypothetically it might be better to drink more green tea in less time than it is less green tea over a longer period.

A lot of people praise green tea for how it helps manage skin issues, diabetes, and even their blood pressure. Understanding the relationship between green tea and teeth will empower you to make an educated, individual decision about whether or not it’s bad for your teeth overall.

4 Green Tea Benefits For Teeth

Besides the typical medical benefits of drinking green tea, are there any specific ways that it helps your mouth? Yes! Green tea contains natural antioxidants, which help combat inflammation, such as swollen, red gums. There are also certain compounds inside of the tea leaves that aid in healing and reducing bacterial levels.

Keep in mind that any of these benefits can be completely offset if you’re adding sweeteners to your tea!

1) Improved Gum Health

In a study of almost 1,000 men[1], those who drank green tea each day had better gum health than the men who did not. Everything from the attachment level of their gums (pocket depth) to bleeding was analyzed. Since periodontal disease contributes to tissue detachment and tooth loss, it was suggested that the anti-inflammatory benefits of green tea were thought to aid in deterring this common oral infection.

If you’re someone who frequently experiences bleeding when you brush or floss, or you know that you struggle with gum disease, drinking more green tea could significantly reduce your risk for chronic gum disease (not to mention other inflammation throughout your body.)

Some dentists also recommend sipping on green tea after oral surgery, because of how it helps accelerate wound healing and limits bleeding. It’s not uncommon to hear dentists recommend using tea bags to soothe sore gums after a dental extraction or gum graft.

In addition to its anti-inflammatory properties, there is also some research that suggests tea can help prevent bone resorption, which is the loss of bone structure (from gum infection) around the roots of teeth.[2]

2) Cavities  

Drinking green tea could help your tooth remineralize itself when fluoride or similar agents are applied (such as through your toothpaste, mouthwash, or a prescription gel.)[3]

On a related note, the phenols inside green tea are also shown to limit the presence of the bacteria that form cavities on teeth.[4] Almost to the point that some scientists recommend rinsing with green tea to help lower the risk and spread of tooth decay. Unsweetened, of course. Similarly, the antioxidants in your green tea also impact the pH of your saliva and any plaque in your mouth, helping neutralize acid levels that are responsible for forming cavities in the first place.

3) Bad Breath 

Bacteria are usually responsible for bad breath. They can hide across your tongue, under your gums, and between teeth. Approximately 90% of bad breath-causing germs are on your tongue. Since green tea helps kill microbes in your mouth, it can help you better control any foul odors you might be concerned about. Just remember you’ll also need to get in there and physically clean them off, too. A tongue scraper works great for that, and then you can let the green tea go after whatever little particles are left behind. In other words, it’s fine to drink it right after you brush and floss!

4) Oral Cancer

In addition to healthier teeth and gums, drinking green tea could also potentially lower a person’s chances of developing oral cancer and other cancers.[5] Some of the polyphenols inside green tea are proven to impede tumor cells, without impacting healthy cell tissues. The reason behind it is that it delays development and blood flow directly to the tumor. For that reason, some experts recommend frequent tea drinking to limit the chance of developing cancer in general. But while we’re on the topic, it’s also important to note that some health experts have reported drinking both green and black teeth might be counterproductive when treating specific diseases, like prostate cancer, so it’s not necessarily good to drink in every situation.

The Downside Of Green Tea And Its Impact On Teeth

First and foremost, the biggest side-effect of green tea on your tooth enamel is staining. Like other teas or dark liquids, sipping on it fairly frequently will lead to tooth discoloration. Green tea and teeth whitening don’t mix, so make sure you’re avoiding it if you’re trying to brighten your smile.

One way to limit tooth stain from green tea is to rinse with water immediately afterward. Or to drink it through a straw.

If you’re adding sweeteners into your green tea—even natural ones like honey or agave nectar—the sugar molecules can contribute to tooth decay. Liquid sugars tend to be the worst for our mouths because they coat every nook and cranny. Drinking straight green tea without any added flavorings or sweeteners will do far less damage to your teeth.

Should I Drink Green Tea Or Not!? 

As long as you’re drinking your green tea without any sweeteners, it’s safe for your teeth. Just remember, the more often you drink green tea, the more tooth stain you’re going to have across your smile. Teeth are covered in tiny, microscopic pores, so they naturally absorb dark stain particles from the liquids we put in our mouth. When you’re sipping on a cup of tea, those stains and tannins can affect your top front teeth the most.

If you’re enjoying the health benefits of green tea to the point you notice a significant difference in your wellness, it’s definitely not worth giving up. Especially if it’s helping you control your weight, blood sugar levels, blood pressure, skin concerns, or overall inflammation. The tradeoff with tooth stain is likely worth it, in any of those situations. Especially if you’re seeing a dentist regularly or have access to teeth whitening products.

Talk To A Dentist 

Discussing your nutritional habits with your dentist and dental hygienist can help you keep your teeth healthier, longer. If you love green tea or other homeopathic remedies, be sure to share that information with your dental team. A holistic approach to your smile’s health will give you the tools you need to avoid common risks—such as sweeteners in green tea or tooth stain—while still getting the most out of your all-natural diet.

Even if you don’t add sweeteners to your tea or only drink green tea a few times a week, you’ll want to plan regular checkups and cleanings at least every six months. During those visits, your hygienist will polish away any surface stain that accumulated since your last visit. Your dentist will also screen for changes in your mouth, to pinpoint areas of concern while they’re still small. Although green tea promotes healthy teeth and gums, it won’t completely rule out your risks of ever getting cavities and gum disease.

Green Tea And Teeth Recap

Green tea: it’s an all-natural drink that offers a lot of health benefits. From anti-bacterial properties to weight loss, straight-up green tea can be an extremely healthy supplement for your everyday diet. But drinking it the wrong way—like adding sweeteners or sipping on it all day long—will definitely impact your smile in a negative way. Avoid unnecessary sweeteners and try to drink it in a specific timeframe as opposed to all day long, and you’ll limit the chances of cavities or staining. When in doubt, always talk to your dentist and hygienist!

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