Drink Green Tea for a Cleaner Mouth (and Better Breath)

| 3/30/2010 10:27:31 AM

I would love to have a clean-feeling mouth all day long, but I’m not the kind of person who brings a tooth brush to the office. I recently discovered, however, that my daily habit of drinking green tea might be improving my oral hygiene when I can’t brush.

While green tea has only become popular in the United States within the past decade, green tea has been the beverage of choice for thousands of years in many Asian cultures, where many regard it as having a positive effect on oral hygiene. Taking those beliefs into account (along with the fact that many of us drink green tea on a daily basis), a group of scientists at Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan, researched how green tea affects oral health.

They found that green tea supports healthy teeth and gums. Participants in the study who drank a cup of green tea a day experienced fewer symptoms of gum disease, such as bleeding and detached gums, than did other participants. The researchers think that green tea’s antioxidant catechin is likely responsible for green tea’s oral cleansing powers. Gum disease is an inflammatory disease, and antioxidants reduce inflammation in the body.

tea pot with a cup of tea
Japanese researchers found that a cup of green tea each day helps reduce symptoms of gum disease. Photo By minato/Courtesy Flickr. 

Other studies have shown that green tea fights bacteria that live in the mouth, which not only helps ward off oral diseases but keeps your breath smelling fresher. Green tea is also a good alternative to sodas and fruit juices, which erode tooth enamel. Research in Japan and Europe found that green tea has the same erosive effect as water—none!

(A side note: If you’re using green tea to cure bad breath, skip any sugar additives. Sugar feeds the bacteria that live in your mouth and cause bad breath.)

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