There are numerous reasons why having good oral hygiene is desirable. Either for that gleaming, attractive smile or to be able to eat all the delicious and healthy foods you want while preventing unpleasant toothaches and perhaps other dental health concerns. However, if you are a fan of drinking tea, one of your worries might be that tea is detrimental to your gum health.
Many types of tea are strong in chromogens, tannins, and acids, which are all detrimental to your teeth. These substances discolour teeth and erode enamel, the firm, thin, transparent layer that preserves them. Although many types can contribute to tooth damage, there are certainly exceptions. One of these exceptions is Pu Erh tea.
Recent research studies reveal that consuming Pu Erh tea can substantially improve oral health. However, you won't be finding it provided at your doctor's office just yet. But you read it right: Pu Erh tea does not only help with weight loss and stress reduction, but it can also improve your smile!
What are the components of Pu Erh tea?
Pu Erh tea is a fermented tea typically produced in China's Yunnan Province. Camellia sinensis leaves, and stems are used to make the famous beverage. In Southeast Asia and Europe, Pu Erh tea is generally acknowledged and consumed as a healthy drink. Apart from its unique flavour and taste, Pu-erh tea is becoming incredibly popular due to its numerous health benefits. The diverse array of active chemicals in Pu Erh Tea contributes to these health advantages.
Active components like flavonoids and hydrolyzable tannins have been identified and isolated in Pu Erh Tea. Aside from such compounds, Catechins, which are considered the main chemical constituent of Pu Erh, are also present. Pu Erh tea contains epigallocatechin gallate(EGCG), strictinin, quercetin, kaempferol, myricetin, and coumaric acid. Pu Erh tea also has high concentrations of caffeine, theophylline, gallic acid, and theobromine. Many of these compounds are responsible for promoting better gum health.
So, how does consuming Pu Erh tea benefit your oral health?
One of the most typical oral disorders globally is tooth decay. It affects over half of the global population today. Microorganisms cause this disease in the oral mucosa. These oral disease-causing bacteria include Streptococcus oralis, Streptococcus gordonii, Streptococcus sanguinis, and Actinomyces spp. These microorganisms stick to the surface of the teeth and make a connection between many other oral microbes like Streptococcus sobrinus, Streptococcus mutans, and Lactobacillus spp. These microbes gather on the tooth's surface, forming a viscous biofilm known as dental plaque. The oral bacteria in dental plaque destroy the tooth enamel by hydrolyzing and degrading carbohydrates to create acid, resulting in dental decay.
Staphylococcus mutans is one of the oral bacteria that has been considered to demonstrate a critical role in the development of dental caries. As a result, lowering oral cariogenic bacteria, especially S. mutans, or limiting the growth of bacterial dental biofilm on the surface of the teeth is thought to be an effective way to avoid this gum illness.
More and more scientists are looking for natural anti-caries chemicals such as catechol, emetine, quinine, and flavone derivatives in plant extracts. According to a study conducted by Liao et al. in 2021, Pu Erh tea is experimentally recognized as the most satisfactory tea regarding anti-caries properties among the numerous teas regularly drank in Asia. According to this research, the anti-caries benefits of Pu Erh tea are partly related to its ability to prevent the proliferation of cariogenic bacteria such as S. mutans and S. sobrinus. Pu Erh tea also can suppress bacterial biofilm formation. Moreover, catechins and strictinin both promote the anti-caries benefits of Pu Erh tea. Strictinin was found to be more effective than epigallocatechin gallate, the primary catechin preventing the production of biofilms by the two microbial pathogens.
In a tea infusion made with about 10 grams of Pu Erh tea leaves in 1 litre of heated water, roughly 30% of the caffeine, strictinin, and EGCG concentration is liberated. Pu Erh tea has about 200 to 500 mg of caffeine, 200 to1000 mg of strictinin, and 200 to 1000 mg of EGCG per 10 grams of tea leaves. As a result, caffeine, strictinin, and EGCG quantities in Pu Erh tea infusions are about 100 to 300, 100 to 500, and 100 to 500 μM, correspondingly. According to Liao et al., strictinin and EGCG in a Pu Erh tea infusion made with more than 10 grams of Pu Erh tea leaves in 1 litre of water are more significant than 100 μM, making it efficient in blocking the growth of bacterial biofilms. Pu Erh tea can be exploited as a low-cost natural anti-caries resource for valuable products.
Another study conducted by Wang et al. in 2013 noted that Pu Erh tea could prevent oral pathogen adhesion to periodontal tissues and promote oral soft tissue integrity. According to this study, Pu-erh tea extracts inhibited the adhesion of all Streptococcus bacteria to gingival tissues by roughly 99.99%.
Furthermore, a prospective cohort study by Koyoma et al. in 2006, which included available information from 25,078 respondents, demonstrated an inverse relationship between daily drinking of at least one cup of tea and the incidence of tooth loss. According to the study, women who drank at least five cups of tea a day had 11% lower teeth loss incidence, while men who drank the same amount each day had 23% lower incidence compared to those who only consumed less than one cup of tea daily. Moreover, regular tea drinkers had much lower dental caries than coffee consumers, according to the previous cross-sectional research of more than 6,000 teen children in the United Kingdom by Jones et al. in 1995. These findings were irrespective of the volume of liquid taken.
Studies have also shown that Pu Erh tea's flavonoids and tannins have potent antimicrobial activities. This antibacterial effect can also be another factor that can decrease and limit the growth of other oral microorganisms. Polyphenol in Pu Erh tea kills microorganisms that cause decay in your teeth. The polyphenol also aids in the inhibition of all glucose polymerase activities, which cause decay by forming acidic compounds on the dental enamel. This compound also defends your gums from microorganisms, resulting in strong and healthy teeth.
Consuming Pu Erh tea accomplishes two goals. One, it lowers oral bacteria levels. Two, it limits plaque formation in your mouth. Pu Erh tea decreases oral inflammation when consumed regularly. Harmful bacteria are reduced as inflammation reduces. Also, Pu Erh tea has a unique substance called polyphenols, catalysts for transformation. These compounds lower the number of oral bacteria and prevent the remaining microorganisms from adhering to your teeth's surface. You can essentially drink your way to improve your dental health.
So, is Pu Erh tea terrible for your Teeth? Well, science says no.
- Goenka P, Sarawgi A, Karun V, Nigam AG, Dutta S, Marwah N. Camellia sinensis (Tea): Implications and role in preventing dental decay. Pharmacogn Rev. 2013;7(14):152-156.
- Healthline. 2020. Pu-erh Tea: Benefits, Dosage, Side Effects, and More. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/pu-erh-tea-benefits. Retrieved on 12 May 2022.
- Jones C, Woods K, Whittle G, Worthington H, Taylor G. Sugar, drinks, deprivation and dental caries in 14-year-old children in the north west of England in 1995. Community Dent Health. 1999;16(2):68-71.
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- Liao, M.H., Wang, X.R., Hsu W.L., Tzen, J.T.C. 2021. Pu'er tea rich in strictinin and catechins prevents biofilm formation of two cariogenic bacteria, Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sobrinus. J. Dent Sci. 16(4). 1331-1334
- Pedan V, Rohn S, Holinger M, Hühn T, Chetschik I. Bioactive Compound Fingerprint Analysis of Aged Raw Pu'er Tea and Young Ripened Pu'er Tea. Molecules. 2018;23(8):1931. Published 2018 Aug 2. doi:10.3390/molecules23081931
- Wang, Y., Chung, F.F., Lee, S.M. et al. Inhibition of attachment of oral bacteria to immortalized human gingival fibroblasts (HGF-1) by tea extracts and tea components. BMC Res Notes 6, 143 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1186/1756-0500-6-143