Let’s talk about tea and teeth

cup of tea

October 30, 2021

A cup of tea! Tea addicts may just want one right away, but have you ever thought about its effects in your mouth? Most of us find it extremely difficult to start our day without a cup of ‘chai’. It’s just not chai but a cup full of freshness, energy, alertness, and good mood. Perfect ingredients to start the day! But it does not cease only at the start of the day, it continues the whole day!

Tea is such an integral part of the rhythm of our lives and is a celebrated drink over myriads of cultures worldwide! It is difficult to spot any house, social gathering, offices or business meetings without a tea over the conversation. But hardly does anyone realize that the sip of energy is not leaving anyone without bargains.

Is Black tea bad for your teeth? Let’s find out!

Black tea is a fully oxidized tea that contains 2%-4%caffiene, tannins, and anti-oxidants. Black tea gets its distinctive color and taste due to the oxidation process i.e., fermentation, and hence has a unique color and taste which is different than the other teas. Most of us enjoy drinking a black tea due to its numerous benefits to get through the day. But more than two cups of black tea can considerably speed up the staining process of teeth. Black tea does negatively impact the color of our natural pearly white teeth. Black tea may have other health benefits but it contains rich stain producing tannins. Such strong compounds when they come in contact with the teeth gives them a distinct brownish discoloration. The teeth most affected are the upper and lower front teeth.

cup of black tea

Oral care tips to prevent the staining of teeth

  • Moderation is the key! Try to limit the consumption of black tea to at least once a day. That way one can reap the benefits of black tea as well as protect the teeth from getting stained.
  • Rinse your mouth thoroughly with plain water to get rid of any excess tea left over in the mouth.
  • Chewing sugar free gum can also be beneficial since it stimulates the saliva production which rinses the oral cavity of any remnant tea particles. 
  • If you are unable to get rid of tea addiction the least you can do is get a teeth cleaning and polishing every 6 months. This can also help you keep your gums healthy and prevent cavities too.

What’s in the cup of green tea?

There is no need for any research to prove the fact that green tea is extremely beneficial for our health. Green tea definitely has a cutting edge over all other beverages. Green tea contains ample anti-oxidants, flavonoids, polyphenols etc. which have immense general and oral health benefits. But the health benefits which a single cup of green tea can hail not necessarily can be derived through excess consumption. Anything which is consumed in excess becomes a habit and a habit can sooner or later turn into addiction.

cup of green tea

Along with other important ingredients, green tea is a rich source of fluoride. A single cup of green tea has anywhere between 0.3-0.5mg of fluoride which provides almost 60-70% of our daily fluoride intake. Research has shown that almost 30% of fluoride is retained in the oral cavity after consuming a single cup of tea. Therefore, an excess consumption of green tea can lead to a condition called fluoride toxicity also known fluorosis. Fluorosis is a condition which affects the enamel of the tooth resulting in mottling, discoloration and hypoplastic patches resulting in highly unesthetic appearance of teeth. 

Another important fact is that, the tannins in green tea blocks the absorption of iron in the body making the health drink lose its vital property that is anti-oxidation. If green tea is consumed immediately after meal, it severely impacts the absorption of iron in the body. Iron is extremely important for the maintenance of oral health at cellular level. Hence, excess consumption of green tea can severely deplete the body of its iron content affecting the oral health at cellular and tissue level.

Is hot tea bad for your teeth? Here are a few things to consider!

Winters are nearly here and everyone wants to curl up over a hot cup of tea watching their favorite TV shows. While a pot of hot tea is good to warm up your body it has a little different effect on the teeth. Tea contains tannins as their main ingredients and tannins are known to be potential teeth stainers. Due to inherent porous nature of tooth enamel, hot tea increases the permeability of the enamel accelerating the staining process.

cup of hot tea

The hidden sugar can be detrimental

Also, the additives such as sugars in the hot tea increases the chances of tooth decay. Most of the people enjoy loads of sugar in their tea. Sugar is the main culprit in the development of dental caries. Thus, along with teeth staining a sugar laden hot tea can make you prone for dental caries too.

sugar for tea

Too much of lemon tea is not good for your teeth

Another important fact is that tea is naturally a little on the acidic side. Thus, there is always a risk of enamel erosion if consumed in excess quantity. On top of it, many people have a habit of squeezing a lemon in the hot tea which aggravates the erosion process. Therefore, a hot cup of tea along with additives such as sugar and lemon combines with the natural flavonoids present in the tea decreasing their benefit which can hugely jeopardize the oral health.

cup of lemon tea

Often times, tea is accompanied by some snacks. Most of the times people tend to indulge in lot of biscuits without realizing the consequences. Biscuits are made up of refined flour or maida, salt and sugar known as ‘white poisons’. Such unhealthy snacks along with sugary hot tea only leads to more and more dental cavities.

How about iced tea? Is it harmful for teeth?

As the name suggests iced tea is served chilled. It is either combined with or without milk, natural or artificial sweeteners, flavoring agents as per the requirement. Once in a while, this refreshing drink can quench your thirst. But, as the famous saying goes, ‘Anything consumed in excess can be toxic, including water’. 

cup of ice tea

Thus, sweetened iced teas pose a potential risk factor for the development of dental caries. Along with that people tend to mindlessly chew on the hard ice, which can be very detrimental for teeth. Chewing on hard ice can produce micro-cracks in teeth eventually causing even breakdown of the teeth. Pre-packaged iced teas or bottled iced teas contain citric acid as a preservative. Citric acid is highly acidic tends to erode the tooth surface over a period of time.

Highlights

  • Be extremely mindful of how much tea you have, when do you have it and what do you have your tea with.
  • It is very important to control the quantity of tea in any form that is consumed.
  • Try to accompany tea with more healthier options.
  • Consuming tea right at the start of the day that too on an empty stomach is not a good idea.
  • Tea which is free of excess sugar, lemon and preservatives would definitely make a more healthy, dentally safe beverage to drink.

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Dr Priyanka Bansode has completed her BDS from the prestigious Nair Hospital & Dental College, Mumbai. She has also completed her Post Graduate Fellowship in Microdentistry from Government Dental College, Mumbai and a Post Graduate Dip. In Forensic Science & Related Laws from Mumbai University. Dr Priyanka has a vast and a diverse experience of 11 years in clinical dentistry and has maintained her private practice of 7 years in Pune. She is keenly involved in community oral health and has been part of various diagnostic dental camps, attended several National & State Dental conferences and is an active member of many social organisations. Dr Priyanka was awarded the ‘Swayam siddha Puraskar’ by the Lion’s Club, Pune in 2018 on the eve of International Women’s Day. She believes in creating an awareness on oral health through her blogs.
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