Tea Helps Prevent Cavities
(Reuters) - You won't find it served at your dentist's office
just yet, but drinking black tea between meals may help reduce
cavities and plaque, researchers said on Tuesday.
funded by the Tea Trade Health Research Association found several
doses of black tea every day not only reduced plaque build-up
but also helped control bacteria.
that the black tea infusion can inhibit or suppress the growth
of bacteria that promotes cavities and affect their ability to
attach to tooth surfaces,'' said Christine Wu, professor of periodontics
at the University of Illinois and lead researcher on one part
of the study.
Wu said that
while earlier studies in Japan have shown the cavity-fighting
benefits of green tea, known for being rich in antioxidants, her
team chose to focus on black tea, which is more popular in Western
is part of a collaborative study done in conjunction with the
College of Dentistry at the University of Iowa and the Institute
of Odontology at Goteborg University in Sweden. The findings were
presented at a meeting of the American Society for Microbiology
in Orlando, Florida.
contains more than 300 species of bacteria that adhere to tooth
surfaces and produce cavity-causing acid. Plaque is also a leading
cause of gum disease.
element of black tea, polyphenols, killed or suppressed cavity-causing
bacteria from either growing or producing acid, according to Wu's
study. The tea also affected the bacterial enzymes and prevented
the formation of the sticky material that binds plaque to teeth.
in the study rinsed with tea for 30 seconds, five times, waiting
3 minutes between each rinse.
trying to simulate what people did while sipping tea,'' Wu said.
study by Goteborg University, where participants rinsed with tea
for one minute 10 times per day, showed comparable results. Both
studies showed that the more people rinsed, the more their plaque
and bacteria levels fell.
In the University
of Iowa study, researchers looked at the impact of black tea's
fluoride content on preventing cavities but found the benefits
less clear. They exposed pre-cavity tooth changes to black tea
but saw little change, suggesting that tea's cavity-fighting ability
stems from a complicated reaction between it and bacteria.
``We had very
little results, which implies that if tea is having a result in
normal use it's not from fluoride,'' said James Wefel, professor
and director of the Dows Institute of Dental Research at the University
to help prevent cavities the tea must truly be ''black,'' without
sugar, milk, honey or other additives. Researchers also stressed
drinking black tea should not replace traditional oral hygiene.
affect the plaque formation but one has to brush their teeth to
remove the plaque,'' Wu said. ``It's a must.''
black tea may fight cavities, it does not combat tooth stains.
``It is going
to stain people's teeth, but at least we know it's good for oral
health,'' Wu said.
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