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Tips, tricks and suggestions about oral health.

Tea and Tap Water - The Great Oral Health Debate

Professionals in the field of dentistry and their patients are always debating the pros and cons of what kind of foods are either good or bad for your teeth. The same goes for beverages like coffee and red wine. A glass of red wine can actually be helpful in fighting heart disease. yet, by the same token, merlot , cabernet or any other red wine, can wreak havoc when it comes to staining your teeth.

As far as beverages go, there's a definite grey area concerning the effects of tea and tap water on your teeth. Coffee and colas are the beverages that are most discussed by dentist and patient. But, more and more, the positive and negative effects of drinking tea and tap water are being discussed.There's plenty of room for debate here, which is good, since, anything that starts a conversation about one's oral health is beneficial.

The next time that you visit your dentist, don't be surprised if he or she advises you to start drinking more tap water, especially if you have an ongoing problem with cavities.

You know what I'm talking about don't you ; that crystal clear liquid that flows out of your kitchen sinks' tap ? You wash your hands and dishes with it, but, truth be told, you don't drink it, nearly as much as you used to. And, that could be a mistake!

With the bottled water revolution that has overtaken America, over the last decade or so, tap water has definitely taken a back seat as far as our daily drinking habits go. Yes, bottled water tastes great and is oh so trendy. But, no matter how cool your favorite brand of bottled water is, the one thing that's missing is the cavity fighter known as fluoride.

Fluoride strengthens your enamel and prevents tooth decay. Fluoride also works to re-mineralize your teeth, when they have been damaged by acid.
Hard water, straight out of your kitchen or bathroom tap , contains many of the minerals that dentists feel are vital to build up your enamel.

In addition to containing calcium, magnesium and phosphorous, hard water just seems to taste better than its' soft counterpart, which tends to have a somewhat salty aftertaste.

A great fluoride-strong toothpaste, together with hard tap water, makes for a very potent preventive oral care cavity fighting team.

Fluoride exists naturally in most water sources. It is derived from fluorine , which can be found in the earths' crust.

Many experts feel that, one of the main reasons why cavity rates have plummeted over the last fifty years is due to the fact that most communities and cities throughout America have fluoride inside their water supply. Through a public health program called Community Water fluoridation, several generations of Americans have grown up drinking fluoride infused tap water. 

Most bottled water products contain little or no fluoride, so that trend, may eventually be reversed, over time.

But, be wary.Ingesting too much fluoride can , sometimes, be harmful, particularly where children are concerned. It is always best to talk things over with your dentist and be sure that you are not overdoing the fluoride thing.
One step that you CAN take is to call your local department of health and check the levels of the fluoride in your town or city's water supply.

You need water to make a nice cup of tea. But, does drinking tea , do more harm than good as far as the health of your pearly whites are concerned ?

Well, there's no debate on one thing. Tea stains your teeth. Many dentists and researchers feel that tea has a greater propensity to stain the average persons' teeth than does coffee.

Coffee is extremely high in chromogens, which are compounds that contain very strong pigments. These pigments enable the coffee to cling or stick to your enamel. Together with the high acid level found in coffee, these chromogens will, in time, cause your teeth to develop a yellowish cast on them.

Tea does NOT contain chromogens. That's the good news. The bad news here, though, is that tea is loaded up with tannins.
Tannins are plant based compounds that make it easier for stains to adhere to your teeth.

Tannins are found throughout nature, particularly in leaves and in wood. The name tannin is derived from the early use of these compounds, dating back centuries, in tanning animal hides to make leather.

As far as tea is concerned, tannin helps to formulate the beverages' flavor and color. By the way, tea also contains Theanine, which is the calming ingredient for which tea is world famous for.

Black tea has way more tannins than does the green variety. Green tea tends to stain less and it also contains fluoride, which we talked about earlier in this article.

Tannins are a form of antioxidants. They can do a variety of things that can benefit your health including lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol as well as fighting heart disease and type 2 diabetes. These antioxidants also have anti-bacterial properties which are vital as far as standing guard against tooth decay, plaque and cavities.

Tea keeps you much better hydrated than does coffee, which helps to prevent dry mouth, a malady that has often been discussed within the pages of the New York Dental blog. Catechin, another antioxidant found in tea helps to strengthen your gums and teeth. Some studies , conducted both here and abroad have shown that catechins, especially those that are in green tea, fight inflammation of the gums and can actually contribute to reducing the effects of Gingivitis such as bleeding and receding gums.

So, it's clear that, despite the stain factor, tea is great for both your teeth and your overall health, in general.
That having been said, however, it is always good to consume everything in moderation and meet your goal of having a well-balanced diet.

Try to keep the tea drinking to one or two cups per day. After you drink a cup of tea, brush your teeth asap, in order to cut down on the stains. And, when we refer to tea, we are talking about BREWED TEA, not the bottled or canned variety that contains too much sugar.

Many dentists recommend that if you are a frequent coffee, tea or wine drinker, you should use a blend of baking soda and salt and brush with it, at least, three or four times per week. This won't whiten your teeth, but it will remove some of the stains caused by tea and other beverages.

The best thing, though, is to schedule a regular cleaning with your dental professional. Prior to your cleaning and polishing, tell your dentist about your diet, what you are eating and drinking, and obtain professional advice . Never, ever, be afraid to ask questions. That's what your dentist and hygienist is there for. 

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