Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Drinking tea makes your mouth clean

Asians have long been in the habit of drinking tea after eating meals or sweets, and scientific research shows that this makes sense. Dental caries (cavities) are the result of bacteria called S. mutans, which use sugars in the mouth to produce a sticky substance called plaque. The plaque coats the teeth and gives the bacteria something to cling to, so more and more bacteria can gather. And while they’re producing plaque, the S. mutans bacteria also produce an unfortunate byproduct called lactic acid, which eats into the tooth enamel. This combination of plaque buildup and lactic acid is responsible for the decay that occurs in our nearly indestructible tooth enamel.

Research has shown that green tea catechins can help fight tooth decay in several ways: by making it harder for the bacteria to cling to the teeth, inhibiting the production of plaque, and destroying some of the S. mutans bacteria -- and these effects can occur with as little as one cup of green tea!
In addition, a recent study published in Caries Research has found that green tea’s EGCg helps reduce the ability of S. mutans to produce the enamel-destroying acid. In this study, volunteers either rinsed their mouths with an EGCg solution or with plain water, then rinsed their mouths again 30 minutes later with a sucrose solution to give S. mutans something to work on. Later, plaque samples were taken and the acidity of the samples was measured.
When the volunteers had pre-rinsed with the EGCg solution, the acidity of the plaque was significantly lower than it was when they had pre-rinsed with plain water. Less acid means less tooth decay. So having a cup of green tea after you eat that candy bar might not be a bad idea…

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