Mouthwashes often contain irritating substances and can have side effects. Green tea has been shown to be equally effective in studies and is side-effect-free.
Green tea as a mouthwash
Mouthwashes are popular as they can easily support oral and dental hygiene and help fight dental plaque and harmful bacteria. While conventional mouthwashes with chlorhexidine are very effective, they can also have side effects, it has been known for a number of years that green tea can also be used excellently and without side effect as a mouthwash.
Dental plaque and bacteria: Cause of chronic diseases
Dental plaque and the bacteria settling in it are considered to be the main cause of gum inflammation and periodontitis. Both diseases are associated with chronic inflammation. There is a decline in gums, jaw bone regression and the formation of gum pockets.
Unfortunately, it is not only the mouth area that is affected here, because periodontitis is closely related to other chronic inflammatory diseases. For example, it is known that people with periodontitis are also more likely to develop arthritis, atherosclerosis and diabetes. Good oral hygiene is therefore an important measure of prevention!
Mouthwashes against dental plaque and bacteria
If you now manage to keep both – dental plaque and harmful bacteria under control –, then you reduce the risk of periodontitis enormously or can at least stop or at least slow down the progression of existing periodontitis.
But removing dental plaque is not always easy. In order to remove plaque, i.e. dental plaque, thorough dental care is required, which is rarely carried out to the required extent (several times daily brushing of teeth and several times daily application of floss). Also, the turkey utensils often do not reach all places of the tooth. Mouthwashes can be used here in addition.
Conventional mouthwashes not optimal
Chlorhexidine is considered the gold standard among the antiplaque active ingredients in mouthwashes. The chemical has a very wide range of antibacterial effects while at the same time low toxicity. Chlorhexidine can reduce the amount of bacteria in saliva by up to 90 percent and maintain this low bacterial level for a few hours.
However, chlorhexidine can in some cases have unpleasant side effects, such as the discoloration of the teeth, damage to the oral mucosa and impairment of the sense of taste, so that a permanent application is not recommended. However, it is precisely a permanent use of a mouthwash that would be necessary if tooth decay and gum diseases were to be prevented or treated sustainably.
Other mouthwashes consist of essential oils in an alcoholic solution. However, many people do not like the strong aroma of essential oils, nor do they want to have an alcohol breath after each mouthwash.
Green tea can be used as a mouthwash
The really ideal mouthwash – in order, effective and side-effect-free – so do not yet exist in the trade, at least not under the name “mouthwash” – but possibly in the tea department. Because green tea appears to be a near-ideal mouthwash, a 2014 study suggests.
The main active ingredients in green tea are antioxidant polyphenols, especially flavonoids, such as catechins, catechin allates (such as the well-known EGCG) and proanthocyanidins.
Green tea against chlorhexidine: The study
The study now examined whether a daily mouthwash with a solution containing 0.25 percent catechin content can remove dental plaque and whether this effect is comparable to a conventional 0.12 percent chlorhexidine solution.
30 students made themselves available as subjects
The cateche-containing solution consisted of: 250 mg catechins (from green tea), 100 mg sodium chloride (salt), 50 mg sodium benzoate as preservatives, 50 mg sodium hydrogen carbonate (soda), a dye and 100 ml of distilled water.
Half of the students now used 15 ml of the catechin solution twice a day for one week, while the other half used chlorhexidine solution twice a day (1 minute each). Other oral and dental hygiene measures should not be used this week.
After the first week, two weeks (washout period) will follow, during which all subjects should brush their teeth with a specific toothbrush and toothpaste. Then the mouthwashes were reinstated for a week, but this time each group used the other mouthwash.
After completing the study, the dental plaque of all teeth and also the tongue plaque as well as other markers were examined that might be relevant to the effectiveness of a mouthwash.
Green tea works as well as chlorhexidine
It showed there were no significant differences in the effectiveness of both mouthwashes. The coverings could be kept under control with both preparations in a similar way – whether on the front or back teeth or on the tongue. There therefore seems to be no reason for the use of chlorhexid-containing mouthwashes when green tea is available, as also pointed out by the study results presented below.
The effects of green tea on dental and gum health
From a previous study it is already known that the green tea and its polyphenolic compounds could be used to accompany the usual periodontitis treatment (scaling and root smoothing), since its catechins had such a good antibacterial effect, the oral flora Influence positively and help prevent tooth decay.
Green teecatechins can also maintain the pH of saliva in a healthy slightly basic environment (7.2 to 7.4), in which Streptococcus mutans (caries bacteria) in particular does not feel comfortable at all. A 2011 study also found that green tea could not only inhibit the caries bacteria, but also alleviate bleeding gums.
Less bad breath
When it comes to bad breath, the study situation is not clear. In a four-week examination (1993) with a diluted catechin solution, periodontitis related bad breath could be reduced. On bad breath as a result of garlic consumption, on the other hand, green tea has little effect, as we have explained here.
Protection of gums and jawbones
Even on the tissue (gums and jawbones), the catechins of the green tea have a healing effect. They inhibit the activity of tissue degrading enzymes (collagen gases, matrix metalloproteases) and thus inhibit tissue destruction and jaw bone degradation, including a 2007 study.
Fewer gum pockets
The 2011 study by Kudva et al. found that green tea catechins were able to reduce the depth of gum pockets so typical of periodontitis and also the number of many bacteria closely related to gum disease, such as Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans, Prevotella intermedia, Fusobacterium species and capnocytophaga.
The bacterium Porphyromonas gingivalis is also closely associated with periodontitis. The more comfortable it feels, the worse the disease. Back in 1996, Sakanaka et al. showed that EGCG from green tea (in a concentration of 250-500 μg/ml) in particular could inhibit the growth of P. gingivalis and its attachment to the gums.
Green tea: The ideal mouthwash
Green tea can therefore be used very well as a daily and side-effect-free mouthwash – not least due to its pleasant taste, its low price and its easy production.
In order to avoid discoloration of the teeth, they must always be well cleaned (with toothbrush and floss).
The higher the catechin concentration in green tea, the better the health effects, it seems. Therefore, green tea is considered not only an ideal mouthwash, but also a drink that should be preferred to other beverages (coffee, soft drinks, juices, etc.) – at least the results from this 2011 study.
Which green tea is suitable as a mouthwash?
Since the focus in the presented studies was on a high catechin content, one should also pay attention to one in the choice of green tea. The Benifuuki green tea apparently has the most EGCG and also total catechins of all teas. But there are many other green teas that contain only slightly fewer catechins, such as Sayamamidori, Gokou, Sayamakaori, Okumidori, Yamatomidori and Izumi.
Green tea in bags usually has a rather low catechin content and is therefore not so well suited as a mouthwash. Since the catechin content in the young leaves is always higher, you should choose green tea from early picking.
By the way, a high catechin content is perfect for a mouthwash, for drinking the tea should not be so very catechically rich, as catechins can also have disadvantages. Catechins, for example, can inhibit the absorption of vital substances, such as iron.
How to prepare the green tea mouthwash?
While green tea is always prepared at low temperatures for drinking, this is not required with the mouthwash, on the contrary, the higher the temperature, the more catechins dissolve in the water. The green tea mouthwash can therefore be made with boiling water.
The draw duration should also be longer (5 to 10 minutes), as more catechins can then dissolve. This also makes the taste of the tea or mouthwash more bitter.
The mouthwash should ideally be freshly prepared daily, but can also be produced in advance for several days (3 to 4) if necessary, but should then be stored refrigerated (at least in summer).