Improved dental health and reduction in cavities are probably primarily due to two properties of tea which are it's fluoride content and it's anti-bacterial properties.
Tea actually extracts fluoride from the soil and it accumulates in the tea leaves. After drinking or rinsing the mouth with tea, 34% of the fluoride is retained in the mouth. The fluoride has a strong tendency to bind with tooth enamel and prevent tooth decay. Several studies have shown that green and black tea inhibit the growth of cavity-causing bacteria. Experiments demonstrate that extracts of green tea inhibit several kinds of oral bacteria that can cause gum disease and tooth decay, including Esherichia coli, Streptococcus salivarius, and Streptococcus mutans (Rasheed A, Haider M. 1998. "Antibacterial activity of Camellia sinensis extracts against dental caries." Archives of Pharmacal Research 21, P. 348-352.) There were similar findings in a study with black tea extract. Subjects either chewed green tea leaves for five minutes or held black tea extract in the mouth for five minutes. "tea leaves can be used as a convenient, slow-release source of catechins and theaflavins and provide information for the possible use of tea in the prevention of oral cancer and dental caries." (Lee, Mao-Jung et al. 2004. "Delivery of Tea Polyphenols to the Oral Cavity by Green Tea Leaves and Black Tea Extract." Cancer Epidemiology,Biomarkers & Prevention 13, p. 132-137.)
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