Unless we tuck crisp five dollar bills underneath our own pillows for old time sake, the greatest gift we can get in the dental department is an affordable six month annual checkup with a complementary mini oral hygiene kit thrown in for good measure. An even greater blessing is getting a cavity-free high five from the dental team for a job well done, but a number of factors including diet, genetics and oral hygiene dedication make the outcome of those twice-a-year visits just about as easy to predict as the next hurricane. If you’re a regular tea drinker, however, it’s a whole different story altogether.
The brewed leaves of the Camellia sinesis plant – processed using various techniques to produce black and white to green, pu-erh and oolong tea – help to rouse us from the haze of our nightly slumber, but they also contain active ingredients that benefit the human body, and particularly the mouth, in significant ways. In anticipation of your next dental checkup, why not take out a flavorful and incredibly healthy insurance policy courtesy of your morning cup? These eye-opening facts could very well make you a cup-a-day tea believer (but why stop at just one?):
SWEETEN YOUR BREATH WITHOUT SUGARY MINTS
Among all types of tea-based antioxidant polyphenols, those from minimally-oxidized green tea are able to combat the volatile sulfur compounds typically responsible for halitosis (aka ‘bad breath’) most effectively. (For a back-up plan, go ahead and make this DIY mouthwash recipe.)
GET TWO THUMBS UP AT THE DENTIST
Drinking just 1 cup of tea daily (without sugar!) = a notable reduction in gum tissue bleeding, gum recession and periodontal pockets.
TEA PACKS A BACTERICIDAL PUNCH
Black tea extract is naturally effective at killing Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria that triggers chronic upper gastrointestinal tract ailments including gastritis, ulcers and even stomach cancer.
Similarly, green tea reverses Salmonella poisoning cases by bursting bacterial cell membranes (thanks to its catechin polyphenols) and tempering the toxins that are normally responsible for septic shock.
REDUCE THE LIKELIHOOD OF DENTAL DECAY
Green tea leaves contain high levels of the mineral fluoride, a substance that creates a very thin fluorapatite layer on tooth enamel, in effect making your choppers a lot more resistant to decay.
CATCH ON TO THE BENEFITS OF CATECHINS
These powerful polyphenol antioxidants are able to temper the body’s response to periodontal bacterial inflammation (i.e. the mouth bacteria associated with tooth decay and gum disease are whipped into submission).
WHAT ABOUT THE RISK OF TEETH STAINING?
Unlike mainstream green tea brands that tend to look brown in color once they’re brewed, high quality green tea that has a vibrant green tone (upon being mixed with hot water) is less likely to make tooth enamel look yellow and stained. You can also take matters into your own hands with these natural whitening tactics.
COMBAT DENTAL PLAQUE
Black tea compounds attack bacterial plaque enzymes in the mouth, throwing a wrench in the plan by preventing them from forming as easily.
NEED A FEW MORE REASONS TO MAKE TEA PART OF YOUR DAILY RITUAL?
There is a direct link between drinking green tea and reducing one’s risk for type 2 diabetes.
Heart attack risk can be reduced by 11% just by sipping 3 cups of tea on a daily basis.
Long term consumption of catechin-rich tea (such as green tea, oolong or, to a somewhat lesser extent, black) helps to reduce body fat.
The EGCG in green tea is believed to not only fight cancer tumor development and prevent carcinogenic compounds from taking control, but also has far more antioxidant power than both vitamin C and vitamin E combined!
WASTE NOT, WANT NOT
Not that you really need to be reminded, but now that your tea drinking habit is about to lift off into the stratosphere, please do your part to recycle all of those spent bags.
Image: Nick J. Webb
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