Oral Health Benefits of Green Tea

by | Jul 3, 2014 | Oral Health

Chinese character for tea formed with teaGreen tea mouthwash may help ease pain caused by the swelling of oral tissue. That’s according to a small but promising study published last month in the International Journal of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery.

The research involved 97 participants suffering from acute pericornitis, a condition in which the gum tissue around erupting or impacted wisdom teeth becomes infected and swollen. Two of the major symptoms are pain and difficulty opening the mouth.

After having their teeth cleaned, participants were told to either use chlorhexidine mouthwash (a common antiseptic) or a 5% green tea mouthwash for seven days. Evaluating each for changes in pain and jaw mobility, the authors found that those who used the green tea rinse had less pain than those in the control group, while also showing improved jaw mobility. Their conclusion?

Green tea mouthwash could be an appropriate and effective choice for the control of pain and trismus [limited mouth opening] in acute pericoronitis.

This is far from the only study suggesting green tea’s oral health benefits. A paper published earlier this year in Geriatrics and Gerontology International summed up some key benefits:

Green tea, a time-honoured Chinese herb, might be regarded as a functional food because of its inherent anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antimutagenic properties. They are attributed to its reservoir of polyphenols, particularly the catechin, epigallocatechin-3-gallate. Owing to these beneficial actions, this traditional beverage was used in the management of chronic systemic diseases including cancer. Recently, it has been emphasized that the host immuno-inflammatory reactions destroy the oral tissues to a greater extent than the microbial activity alone. Green tea with its wide spectrum of activities could be a healthy alternative for controlling these damaging reactions seen in oral diseases, specifically, chronic periodontitis, dental caries and oral cancer, which are a common occurrence in the elderly population.

And a meta-analysis published that same month in Oral Oncology concurred that green tea may aid in protecting against oral cancers.

Green tea can be found as an ingredient in a variety of products, but enjoying a simple cup of green tea (while reading this blog, of course!) may be the most relaxing. To make sure you are getting the most out of it, WebMD makes the following suggestions:

  • Don’t add green tea to boiling water. It’s bad for catechins, those healthy chemicals, in the tea. Better: 160-170 degree water.
  • Add lemon. Vitamin C makes the catechins a easier to absorb. Dairy, on the other hand, makes it harder to absorb them.
  • Nutrient levels in green tea can vary. Pricier teas usually have more, and canned green-tea drinks generally have less.

Of course, green tea is hardly the only herbal ingredient good for your oral health. For instance, another study from earlier this year found that an Ayurvedic herbal rinse was “effective in treatment of plaque induced gingivitis and can be effectively used as an adjunct to mechanical therapy with lesser side-effects.” This particular blend included Pilu, Bibhitaka, Nagavalli, Gandhapura taila, Ela, Peppermint satva, and Yavani satva.

The benefits of herbal mouthwashes change depending on the ingredients, but some of the common ones you’ll find include sage, peppermint, licorice root, clove, cinnamon lemongrass and eucalyptus, among many others.

Image by Toby Oxborrow, via Flickr

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