Tea and Teeth


Tea is considered to be an all-around healthy, nutritious drink by many people. Of this, there is very little debate; it contains catechins, which are powerful antioxidants, and has plenty of other health benefits associated, tested and proven to keep human beings healthy. So, it seems a little odd that one would talk about any health detractors.

However, that’s exactly what we’re going to do, because as it turns out, tannic acid can be a problem for your teeth.

Tannic acid, a type of tannin, does have some benefits towards consuming it. Studies are showing that it can help to resist tumours, it has had a positive effect among patients with haemorrhoids, and, among other things, contains a variety of antioxidants that are helpful to the human body. This is in fact only a very small list, and the actual list of both suspected (not yet fully tested) and actual (fully tested and approved) benefits is much longer. The long and short of it is, it’s good for you.

It might not necessarily be so good for your teeth, however. Dentists long ago noticed an association between tea drinking and stains on people’s teeth, which we now know to be caused due to the tannic acid that tea contains. One would think that black and oolong teas would be the sorts of drink to stain teeth rather than green and white teas, but it appears the latter two are not immune to this effect either. However, black and oolong teas will stain your teeth a lot more, mostly due to their colour.

Mostly tea will stain the enamel of your teeth – that is, the very surface of them. It will also stain plaque and tartar very quickly, and since tartar is both unsightly and difficult to remove unless you’re at a dentist, it makes it even more important to brush your teeth properly. However, with so many people enjoying tea and the health benefits associated with drinking it, it’s not exactly something you want to cut straight out of your diet just due to a bit of tooth decolouration.

So here’s what dentists recommend you do: right after finishing your tea, drink some water and swish it around your mouth. This helps get rid of any tannin still stuck in there. Then wait about an hour and brush your teeth, as apparently waiting for your saliva to naturally clean away some of the offending acids will cause less damage to your teeth than immediately brushing.

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