Green Tea for Oral Health
Tea is one of the most popular beverages consumed worldwide, second only to water. A review by Sabu Chacko et al. discusses the studies and observations of green tea in particular as an antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, and antioxidant. Here we will explore the role of green tea in promoting oral health.
Green Tea and HPV
In 2006 the FDA approved a green tea ointment called Veregen. As the first botanical ever approved by the FDA, this product demonstrates evidence of green tea’s antiviral properties. Veregen is indicated for the treatment of genital and perianal warts caused by human papilloma virus (HPV). HPV can also cause lesions to form in the mouth.
Evidence suggests such HPV lesions could be precursors to oral cancers. In the Journal of Natural Science, Biology and Medicine, Vijayalakshimi Ramshankir et al. explored the use of green tea to prevent oral cancers, identifying many biomarkers that indicate cancer development. Drinking green tea or using green tea extracts may positively impact these biomarkers.
Whole plant extracts, or preparations containing all parts of the plant as opposed to one isolated compound, may have an additional benefit of synergy between multiple complex substances enhancing the effectiveness of each other. One of the most useful substances found in green tea is epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a very potent antioxidant. EGCG is not typically extracted from green tea to use alone as it not a stable single molecule. When whole green tea extracts are used in supplements, the percentage of ECGC is often specified on the label. Green tea extracts are available as supplements in various strengths of ECGC.
Some might find a drawback to green tea consumption to be its caffeine content. Larger amounts of green tea or green tea extract that might achieve the best results may be too stimulating for regular use. Compounded lozenges of decaffeinated green tea extract could be a solution for oral health issues without the stimulating effects of caffeinated green tea or green tea extract. Lozenges are designed to slowly dissolve in the mouth. The tissue in the mouth may benefit by prolonged exposure to the green tea before swallowing. Because green tea, black tea, and coffee are known for staining the teeth, rinse your mouth with water to minimize staining after drinking these beverages or using lozenges.
Like many plants, green tea contains a wealth of substances that scientists are discovering to be beneficial to our health. While drinking tea is an ancient practice, modern science confirms that green tea is a powerful supplement and oral health is just one of its benefits.
- Tea Association of the U.S.A. Inc. Tea Fact Sheet. https://www.teausa.com/14655/tea-fact-sheet. Last accessed: April 2018.
- Chacko S, et al. Beneficial effects of green tea: A literature review. Chinese Medicine. 2010;5:13.
- Fougera Pharmaceuticals Inc. Veregen information. PharmaDerm. www.veregen.com.
- National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Oral Cancer. https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/OralHealth/Topics/OralCancer/DetectingOralCancer.htm. Reviewed February 2018. Last accessed September 2019.
- Ramshankar V, et al. Chemoprevention of oral cancer: Green tea experience. J Nat Sci Biol Med. 2014;5(1):3-7.
- American Academy of Periodontology. Go Green for Healthy Teeth and Gums. https://www.perio.org/consumer/green-tea. Last accessed September 2019.
- Deshpande N, et al. Evaluation of intake of green tea on gingival and periodontal status: An experimental study. J Interdiscip Dentistry. 2012;2(2):108-112.