Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Is Green Tea Bad for my Teeth

Dear Dr. Ellie,

I have a question for you about green tea. I just went to my dentist for a cleaning and she says I should stop drinking green tea as it's staining my teeth. I know that green tea is so good for everyone and I'd hate to stop drinking it. I've been putting the xylitol sugar substitute I bought from you in my green tea. So I guess my question is.......Do you have any thoughts on green tea and staining my teeth? I drink large glasses of it everyday. I drink it like iced tea.


Hi C,

Lets go through a couple of things:

Xylitol as a sugar alternative. It is great that you are using xylitol to sweeten your tea. I believe that xylitol and Stevia are the healthiest sugar alternative sweeteners to use.

When you add xylitol to foods and drinks you certainly "add" the benefits of xylitol. You are decreasing the population of acid-producing (cavity-forming) bacteria in your plaque and in your mouth. This is good but it is only one half of the reason that I want you to use xylitol.

Xylitol to remineralize and strengthen teeth. One of the best uses of xylitol is to help put minerals into the deeper layers of your teeth.

Tooth enamel is built like bone full of holes and it looks like a honeycomb under a microscope.
The "comb" structure of enamel is made of collagen and minerals are packed in between the spaces (where honey would be in a honey comb) in healthy strong enamel (that looks white and does not stain).

Any acids in your mouth will dissolve away these minerals. This leaves holes in your enamel.
Liquids can travel up these holes and if the liquids are colored the enamel will become stained.
The holes also allow light to be "absorbed" into the holes so you do not get the reflection off the surface as you would with strong and hard enamel.
This is why acid-softened teeth look darker and are easily stained.

Unfortunately bleaching teeth with over-the-counter products makes no sense since most of the products are extremely acidic. Put some litmus paper on a Crest White Strip and see the acidity! Wow it is extremely acidic.

The acidity allows the bleaching agent to travel along the holes it makes in your teeth. Yes, these products will take away the stains but they will leave your teeth porous (full of more holes) and more easily stained than before. Ha! Think they know this?

Xylitol on the other hand, puts minerals BACK INTO THE HOLES in your teeth. This is why the best time to eat xylitol is AFTER you have had something acidic to eat or drink. This is why you do not have to give up your favorite drink even if it is acidic: you can easily undo the damage that it has caused.

Xylitol after meals helps to rebuild the strength of teeth. Xylitol after meals help teeth resist staining and look whiter.

Tea Stains
Your tea is acidic even healthy green tea (so is lemon juice, orange juice, Gatorade etc). These drinks will open up holes in your teeth (more so if you put lemon into them). BUT IF YOU EAT A ZELLIE MINT OR GUM after the tea it will reverse any damage and put minerals back into the holes to stop them from staining.

If you want to have even whiter teeth the use of my mouth rinses will also work to help you achieve this. The Closys gently removes any surface stains. The Crest is a great toothpaste abrasive enough but not too abrasive to harm the enamel. Listerine cleans away any toothpaste and prepares the teeth for the next rinse. ACT remineralizes the outer layers of the enamel so you get a smoothing of the surface layers that helps the teeth look whiter also.

Hope this answers your question,


Randor said...

Dr. Ellie, you say here that lemon juice is acidic, but most sources I've seen say lemons are alkaline (pH +9.9. Can you please clarify this seeming discrepancy?

Thank you.

Rand Dorsey
Iloilo City, Philippines

Dr. Ellie said...

Dear Rand,

I understand that citrus fruits and lemons have many health benefits - so yours is a very important question. Thank you.
From my understanding of holistic medicine( and I am a dentist remember!) -lemons create an alkaline reaction in the body when eaten.
Perhaps someone who is expert in this field can explain how this reaction occurs.

From the point of view of mouth, however, we have to look at the actual pH of lemon juice and how it reacts directly as it touches the tooth surface.
If you put lemon juice into a cup and test its pH you will find it acidic ( around pH 2.2)
Citric acid ( from citrus fruits) also appear to create an additional problem for teeth by another effect - called the chelating effect.

If you add lemon juice to milk it will curdle.
Clumps of milk solids will form out of the liquid.

In a very generalized way this is what happens when citric acids enter the mouth.
They "clump" the calcium in saliva, creating a kind of "vacuum effect" with your calcium balance in saliva.
This missing calcium will actually be replaced by a natural "pull" of calcium out of teeth.
The calcium from teeth is needed to replace the calcium missing from saliva ( because it clumped up- or chelated)

It appears that a similar effect may occur when women are pregnant in their last trimester.
Minerals may be missing in their saliva and so minerals can be pulled out of their teeth.

Another way to look at this is that any lack of calcium in saliva( especially when created by acidic chelation ) creates a calcium void in saliva.
The teeth are full of calcium - and so, to fill this void - the calcium is pulled out of teeth and into saliva.

The effect of lemon juice( or other strong acids) can be devastating for teeth unless protective steps are taken.
Gatorade, Red Bull and acidic sodas are acidic - but citric juice may be the most damaging.

Fortunately eating xylitol after demineralizing attacks can help replace minerals in deeper tooth layers - and using ACT will "heal" the surface layers of teeth.

I am happy to discuss this further - since I feel it is an important issue for anyone drinking juice or using citric acids in any form: orange or lemon juice.
You can enjoy citric juices - but protect your teeth from damage with some kind of tooth protective food - and one of the most convenient is xylitol.

Thanks again,

Anonymous said...

Green tea does not "open up holes" in your teeth. Green tea however, strengthens the tooth enamel and gums as it has fluoride in it.

"Green tea contains polyphenol antioxidant plant compounds that reduce plaque and help reduce cavities and gum disease"

Dr. Ellie said...

I agree with the benefits mentioned here - but are all green teas acid neutral?
The pH may be a little changed if you put lemon wedges in the tea I expect. Eat a Zellies after the tea and all will be well!
Merry Christmas


Ellie Phillips DDS
Solutions for Oral Health!
author, Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye

Jerome BG said...

While shopping for Zellies products on Amazon, I notice they sell Zellies Granular Xylitol - 1 Lb. Bag.

Two questions:

Have you had experience with it?

Would it be dumb of me to buy this and mix it in my tea instead of honey and expect its stain-fighting abilities?

Dr. Ellie said...

Green tea is probably not the reason that your teeth get stained.
Green tea is acidic - and has properties that may allow stains to enter your teeth .....if your teeth are soft and porous.
Hard, mineral-dense teeth do not stain - so even drinking tea does not stain strong enamel.

I suggest you finish with xylitol AFTER you have finished drinking your tea ( A fruit Zellie would be a nice paring!)
Also I suggest the use of my system of mouth rinses for you - morning and night.
The rinses not only lift and remove the stains of the day - but they will make your teeth so mineral-dense that they will resist staining far better.

Hope this helps,

Anonymous said...

Would peppermint tea have the same staining effect as green tea? Sorry if this seems a silly question.

Dr. Ellie said...

I suggest you eat some Zellies after your tea!!
Then you won't have to worry about the kind of tea you are drinking.

I believe that there are things in tea that soften the outer layer of teeth, possibly in addition to the acidity - but a Zellie will correct any imbalances immediately.

I do not think that you will discover one tea worse than another.
Some are acidic and some work in other ways to soften teeth.

My advice is not to worry about what you eat or drink.

Enjoy your meals and snacks and - just use Zellies or other tooth protective foods when you finish - then all will be well!

saloni said...

Hello Dr. Ellie ,

I have put up braces on my teeth.My mother advises me not to drink tea.So is it true that it can degrade my teeth?I want an urgent answer so please reply soon.

Dr. Ellie said...

The quick answer is anything acidic will damage your teeth - also products made from plant leaves ( like teas) - iced tea is very bad for teeth( especially if it has lemon in it).
You can drink tea during a meal and it will be OK - but you must ensure that you end the meal with something that is helpful for your teeth ( cheese, dairy or xylitol).

I suggest you use my complete mouth care system to build strength into your teeth before you have braces - and then use this method of cleaning teeth during your time in braces.
You will be glad that you did!