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Matcha Tea for Dental Health, Fact or Fable?
Can you drink matcha tea for dental health? Research shows that the Japanese ‘folk tale’ that those who drink matcha tea have fewer cavities just might be true. While most of the modern research has been done on regular green tea, matcha generally has even more of the healthy components that make up green tea, particularly the antioxidants that are responsible for the improvements in dental health. So what is true of plain green tea is even more true of the matcha tea antioxidant super food as it relates to dental health.
Inhibits Bacteria that Cause Cavities and Gingivitis
In my previous post, An Inconvenient Truth About Cavities, I point out that nutritional factors can be central to dental health. While green tea does not provide nutrition, per se, in the form of nutrients, it does pack a serious punch of antioxidants, and it’s these antioxidants that make it good for dental health.
Antioxidants in all green teas, such as epigallocatechin gallate and catechins(1), may reduce the incidence of cavities by decreasing the number of cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth. There are many types of bacteria that can cause cavities, and green tea is not effective for all of them, but it does seem to be effective at reducing at least some cavity causing bacteria, including specific bacteria called Streptococcus mutans and Porphyromonas gingivalis(1,2).
This is intriguing because the mouth is full of bacteria, but these are two of the major bacteria that causes cavities and gingivitis. In fact, green tea is so effective at reducing bacteria in the mouth that head-to-head studies pitting green tea against the antiseptic Chlorhexidine Mouthwash show that green tea is just as effective, and also has none of the potential Side Effects of Xylitol, another natural substance used for dental health. In fact, I personally use a matcha tea and xylitol mouthwash that I make myself for pennies.
The ability to inhibit bacteria might have more applications, even in non-dental situations(3). In fact, green tea has been studied for its antimicrobial properties in other health settings, and could prove to be an interesting natural antibiotic.
“This study shows that continuous application of tea polyphenols on a daily basis can be considered as a useful and practical method for the prevention of periodontal diseases”
Inhibitory effects of green tea polyphenols on the production of a virulence factor of the periodontal-disease-causing anaerobic bacterium Porphyromonas gingivalis
Decreased Plaque and Acid Levels
In several studies, green tea has been shown to effectively prevent bacteria from sticking to the teeth. (1) This is significant because bacteria sticking to the teeth is what causes plaque build-up, and the acidic enzymes that are produced from the bacteria contribute to cavities. So not ONLY does green tea inhibit the bacteria themselves, but prevents them from sticking to the teeth, as well as inhibiting the production of the acids produced by the bacteria(4).
Too high an acid level in the mouth is a significant contributor to dental issues. This can be a particular problem in vegans who tend to have high acid levels in the mouth, and as a result have a tendency towards more dental problems. Green tea could be an easy and tasty solution to this problem, since it’s also vegan.
While it might seem strange to westerners to give children green tea to drink, this is a common practice in Asia. One study actually gave children green tea to drink at elementary schools and followed them for a year. Comparing them to a control group showed that the children who drink green tea get fewer cavities than children who don’t. While I’m not an advocate of putting substances in drinking water, with all of the controversy around fluoride, it seems that putting green tea in drinking water would be far more beneficial than fluoride, both for teeth and for the many other health benefits that green tea has to offer.
As a bonus, there is even evidence that drinking the green tea can help to prevent oral cancer, improve mental focus, as well as being one of the Practical Tips to Improve Poor Circulation due to it’s vasodilative properties. These seem to be just another good reason to include green tea in your diet on a daily basis.
Review of Kiss Me Organics Ceremonial Grade Matcha Green Tea
In my quest to try some great Matcha green teas, I’m going to review another one today. My first review was of the Kiss Me Organics Culinary Grade Matcha Green Tea, and this review is of their ceremonial grade, which the company generously provided. I had some friends help me test out the matcha, neither of whom had ever had it before, but who enjoy green tea. In order to have a comparison, I used the The Tao of Tea, Liquid Jade Powdered Matcha Green Tea and made two batches using the exact same formula that I used in the first review.
Both of my friends as well as myself preferred the Liquid Jade over the Kiss Me Organics Ceremonial Grade Matcha Green Tea Powder. We all found the Kiss Me to be a bit low on complexity, and was fairly uninteresting. One of the testers described it as tasting like day old leftover green tea, and while normally, I don’t like bitter flavors, I found the lack of bitterness to be somewhat bland and boring.
The Liquid Jade, on the other hand, was enjoyed by all three of us. It had a pleasant complexity with a light bitterness I found enjoyable and even necessary to give it a bit of complexity. At the same time it was smooth. One of the testers said that it tasted like the high end green tea on Asia Airways, which he meant in a complementary way.
With the price comparison of the Liquid Jade being $20.99 for a 3 ounce tin ($7 an ounce) at the time of writing, and the Kiss Me Ceremonial Grade being $28 for one ounce ($28 an ounce), the Liquid Jade is by far the better choice, at least for our three palates. If you enjoy green tea or matcha, making it a daily habit might not only taste good, but might also be good for it’s variety of health benefits, including its ability to improve dental health.
(1) Inhibitory effects of green tea polyphenols on growth and cellular adherence of an oral bacterium, Porphyromonas gingivalis
(2) Study on feasibility of Chinese green tea polyphenols (CTP) for preventing dental caries
(3) Antimicrobial Properties of Green Tea
(4) Inhibition of Acid Production in Dental Plaque Bacteria by Green Tea Catechins
(5) Efficacy of chlorhexidine and green tea mouthwashes in the management of dental plaque-induced gingivitis_ A comparative clinical study