Tea is one of the most consumed beverages in the world. There are many varieties – black, oolong, pu-erh, green, and white, just to name a few. Each type is processed differently to promote varying colors, tastes, and aromas. It turns out that all tea coming from the Camellia sinensis plant may provide benefits for teeth and gums, much more so than previously thought. It looks like tea's antioxidant properties, along with other compounds, may be responsible for its beneficial effects on teeth. Could tea be an alternative to fluoride for fighting cavities? Let's take a closer look.
The Benefits of Tea
Soda consumption is a worldwide concern and it's directly responsible for cavities and tooth erosion. Not only does an average serving of soda contain roughly 17 teaspoons of refined sugar, it also contains highly erosive citric acid, a preservative compound that is more damaging to the teeth than battery acid. Tea is quite the opposite. In fact, one study looked at the effects of tea on tooth erosion and found it to be similar to water, in other words – no erosive effect.  Researchers believe the antioxidants in tea may go further than water, protecting teeth and gums from oxidative damage. 
It should be noted that this study was carried out on unsweetened tea. If you're the type that likes to add sugar, lemon, and/or milk to your tea, you may want to think again. Sugar and acid – regardless of the source – promote tooth decay and the development of cavities. It's best to stick to hot or iced unsweetened tea you brew at home with loose, organic tea leaves. Be sure to stay away from prepackaged tea, as well, because these usually contain citric acid as a preservative. It may also be wise to drink tea through a straw to minimize staining that occurs alongside long-term tea consumption.
Other Ways to Protect Against Tooth Erosion
One of the best ways to protect against tooth erosion is to avoid sugar and acidic foods. Sugar provides food for harmful bacteria and other compounds that eat away at the enamel, and sugar also encourages gingivitis. Incorporating antioxidant-rich foods into your diet is also a great way to protect your teeth and gums. Drink plenty of water and also ensure you're also maintaining healthy vitamin D levels. If you are brushing your teeth with store-bought toothpaste, be sure you're using toothpaste without fluoride, and continue flossing on a daily basis. Oil pulling with an ozonated olive oil like O2-Zap® is another incredibly easy way to promote oral health.
- Academy of General Dentistry. Drink Brewed Tea To Avoid Tooth Erosion, Study Suggests. ScienceDaily, 28 November 2008.
- Puneet Goenka, Aditi Sarawgi, Vinayak Karun, et al. Camellia sinensis (Tea): Implications and role in preventing dental decay. Pharmacogn Rev. 2013 Jul-Dec; 7(14): 152-156. doi: 10.4103/0973-7847.120515.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.