The link between gum and oral health and other infectious and inflammatory diseases, such as heart disease, is well documented. So maintaining healthy teeth and gums is integral for general health and wellbeing.
A number of studies have demonstrated that green tea (Camellia sinensis) has proven benefits in periodontal disease and dental carry prevention, and consumption of green tea is a simple lifestyle inclusion suitable for most people.
The way in which green tea can benefit periodontal and tooth health is multifaceted and is due in large to the polyphenols naturally found in green tea – most specifically the catechin, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG).
A well-known Japanese study demonstrated an inverse correlation between green tea consumption and a reduction in key markers of periodontal disease such as probing depth (PD), clinical attachment loss (AL) and bleeding on probing (BOP). This study found that for every cup of green tea that was consumed, there was a decrease in these three markers.
The most frequently found bacteria in the subgingival plaques of patients with periodontal disease is Porphyromonas gingivalis. Adherence of bacteria to the tissue cells is the first step of infection. Interestingly, green tea polyphenols such as EGCG reduced the adherence of P. gingavalis to buccal epithelial cells.
Further studies were able to show that EGCG was able to “strengthen the epithelial antimicrobial barrier” by inducing secretion of antimicrobial peptides including human beta-defensin (hBD).
Japanese folklore includes the saying green tea “makes the mouth clean” and researchers have found a number of mechanisms that may explain the anticariogenic effect of green tea. Apart from its role as an antimicrobial, green tea has also been shown to have an inhibitory action on the bacterial and salivary amylase and inhibition of acid production from plaque, which all play a part in dental carry pathogenesis.
To obtain these health benefits, all you need is three to four cups of green tea a day, with the average cup providing 50-150mg polyphenols.
- Williams RC, Barnett AH, Claffey N, et al. The potential impact of periodontal disease on general health: a consensus view. Current Med Res Opinion 2008;24(6):1635-1643. [Abstract]
- Kushiyama M, Shimazaki Y, Murakami M, et al. Relationship between intake of green tea and periodontal disease. J Periodontol 2009;80(3):372-377. [Abstract]
- Sakanaka S, Aizawa M, Kim M, et al. Inhibitory effects of green tea polyphenols on growth and cellular adherence of an oral bacterium, Porphyromonas gingivalis. Biosci Biotech Biochem 1996;60(5):745-749. [Abstract]
- Lombardo Bedran TB, Feghali K, Zhao L, et al. Green tea extract and its major constituent, epigallocatechin-3-gallate, induce epithelial beta-defensin secretion and prevent beta-defensin degradation by Porphyromonas gingivalis. J Periodontal Res 2014;49(5):615-623. [Abstract]
- Hamilton-Miller JM. Anti-cariogenic properties of tea (Camellia sinensis). J Med Microbiol 2001;50:299-302. [Abstract]
- Goenka P, Sarawgi A, Karun V, et al. Camellia sinensis (tea): implications and role in preventing dental decay. Pharmacogn Rev 2013;7(14):152-156. [Abstract]
- Chatterjee A, Saluja M, Agarwal G, et al. Green tea: A boon for periodontal and general health. J Indian Soc Periodontol 2012;16(2):161-167. [Full Text]