June 9, 2023

Tea has been consumed for centuries and is the most consumed beverage in the world after packaged water. Tea in its various forms – black (fermented), green (non-fermented) and oolong (semifermented) – has been reported to be consumed by a third of the world’s population.
Recent scientific investigations suggest that chemical constituents of tea have numerous beneficial effects on health, including the prevention of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, arthritis, Cardiovascular Disease (CVD), stroke, genital warts and obesity.
Now, preliminary studies on the impact of tea on microorganisms in the mouth show it is also beneficial for healthy teeth and smiles. In the time that tea spends in the mouth before being swallowed, it can destroy oral microorganisms.
Clinical studies have shown that tea could have an inhibitory effect on oral microorganisms by reducing the deposition of plaque in the tooth and gum surface.
The Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study in 2017 estimated that oral diseases affect about 3.5 billion people worldwide, with dental caries of permanent teeth being the most common condition. Gum diseases and tooth decay are the two most prevalent oral infections affecting mankind worldwide. Bacteria found in dental plaque are the main cause of tooth decay and gum disease.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that 15% to 20% of middle-aged adults aged between 35 to 44 years suffer from severe gum disease, which can cause tooth loss.
In Low To Medium Income Countries (LMIC), where there are limited financial resources and poor access to oral health care, plants and plant extracts have been used to treat many gum diseases.
In a new study on green and black tea leaves carried out at the laboratory of the Université des Montagnes Teaching Hospital in Cameroon, researchers found extracts from green tea leaves kill (bactericidal effect) the different types of  microorganisms that can cause gum disease or tooth decay. But the chemical substances in black tea stop them from reproducing (bacteriostatic effect).
The researchers studied the chemical substances in extracts made from green and black tea leaves. Included in the study were patients diagnosed with periodontitis, a serious gum infection that damages gums and can destroy the jawbone, who were consulted at the Dental Clinic of the “Cliniques Universitaires des Montagnes (CUM).
A total of 10 patients were recruited in the study that excluded patients on antimicrobial treatment, use of mouthwash, and herbal medicine administration from traditional workers. The antibiotic, Amoxicillin was used as the control, for its frequent use in dental practice.
Antibacterial tests performed with extracts show that the susceptibility of microbial strains varies from one strain to another depending on the type of extract and the type of tea. Likewise, the results differ according to the concentrations of extracts used. The different extracts acted on the strains isolated to different degrees.
According to them, the result of the study suggested the use of tea extracts in the prevention of gum disease, making regular tea drinking good for healthy gums and smiles.
They added, “The results of the present study suggest that tea leaf extracts could be an asset in the management of gum disease, in the sense that they can be combined with mechanical plaque control to give satisfactory results.
“Moreover, a comparative clinical study conducted in India on the effectiveness of chlorhexidine and mouthwash made from ethanolic extract of green tea leaves in the management of plaque gingivitis has recommended the use of green tea mouthwash as well as Chlorhexidine as a safe anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial for controlling gum inflammation and maintaining good gingival and oral health.

“It would therefore be interesting to pay particular attention to this plant that although well known to the population as a popular beverage, could shortly be used to protect the oral flora. These are bacteria and other microorganisms that normally inhabit the mouth.
“The use of the constituents of tea leaf as active ingredients in mouthwash formulations and improved traditional medicines of Category 2 Phytodrugs for preventive and curative treatment of gum diseases should be encouraged.”
Few studies in Cameroon showed that native herbs are common self-medicament for oral diseases. This includes gargling with clove oil to aid in sore throat conditions and bad breath. The paste made from garlic bulb is applied to a painful tooth to relieve toothache and treat gingivitis.
The whitish latex of pawpaw is applied directly to the affected areas of the tooth to cure toothache and the decoction is used for treating mouth sores and oral thrush. The bark of Garcinia kola, also known as bitter kola, is used as a mouth rinse to stop dental pain.
Cocos nucifera (coconut) roots are boiled and used as a mouth rinse for treating toothache and tooth sensitivity in Cameroon. Seeds of avocado pear are crushed and boiled to constitute a mouth rinse that is used in treating toothache and mouth sores by traditional healers.

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