We all know tea in its many shapes and forms contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, and many of these compounds are especially present in green tea. But a recent article in New Scientist really got me thinking that tea — in a roundabout way — can improve health outcomes even more than I already knew, and that starts with your mouth. But why is oral health so important?

I thank tea for not having any cavities since 1987. Yes, that ill-fated year I had four of them. Somehow I made it through college without any further issues, and I did switch to an electric toothbrush early on – which I give great credit to. But since the late 90’s onward, I’ve been drinking tea daily — mostly unsweetened — and my dentist says I am his most boring patient.

Teas that contain catechins help protect against the body’s inflammatory response to mouth bacteria. This also inhibits bacterial growth on the teeth. And it’s backed up by reputable organizations such as the American Academy of Periodontology. They recommend drinking green tea, which has these proven effects.

I sort of knew all this already, hence the lack of cavities. But it goes much further than simply getting a clean bill of health from the dentist. The New Scientist Article, from August 10th, 2019 has some eye-opening insight on just how important oral health is to your life.

Here is a summation:  Inside your body, the bacteria live in communities on sheets of cells which are constantly shed, which gets rid of invasive bacteria and doesn’t allow them to gain a foothold to create major problems later on. Makes total sense, right?

With teeth, there is no cell lining that can be cast off. As plaque builds up, these colonies multiply and result in the body’s inflammation response. The problem is that in our 30’s and 40’s, this response isn’t as strong; and it seems that the Gingivalis bacteria helps promote a weakened form of inflammation – just enough so that your body keeps trying to kill the bacteria, and some of your own cells in the process. The result is a protein feast paradise for bacteria.

They are now making the link between aging and its extreme outcomes. Diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and Parkinson’s are more likely or more severe in people with gum disease. The prevalence of gum diseases rises sharply in people over 65 years of age. In fact, 60% of those over 65 have gum disease!

So besides preventing cavities, tea can also be used to stop your mouth from becoming a virtual toxic bacteria petri dish; which in the long run can lower the chances of the scourge of these chronic diseases from affecting you. See a dentist twice a year, and drink plenty of tea. Your mouth and your body will thank you down the road.

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