Is Green Tea the New Mouthwash?
Recently, I came across a comment on Instagram that struck me as very bizarre. I follow a lot of people who practice zero-waste lifestyles because I’m trying my best to eliminate as much waste from my life as possible. One girl who I follow had posted about her zero-waste mouthwash recipe. Then, in the comments, somebody wrote “green tea is the only mouthwash you’ll ever need!” Wait, what?
I was confused, skeptical, and needed to know more immediately. I took to the internet and as it turns out, many people swear by green tea as a mouthwash! It apparently reduces plaque and can lead to better breath and healthier gums. Okay, I’m interested. But still maybe a little skeptical…
Let’s take a quick look at what’s in our current mouthwash. Many antiseptic mouthwashes on the market today include chlorhexidine, a chemical that combats plaque but also might be linked to damage in the cells lining your cheeks and in your peripheral blood cells. Before you get too freaked out, know that most mouthwashes don’t contain chlorhexidine and your dentist will typically only prescribe it after you’ve had an oral procedure. But it might be worth checking your mouthwash because the antiseptic and antibacterial ones could be doing some harm in addition to the good. Mouthwashes that contain alcohol can kill the good bacteria in your mouth, which can lead to complications, and the sugar in the alcohol can even lead to tooth decay and gum disease. My dentist has always advocated using a fluoride mouthwash because it’s alcohol-free, doesn’t kill the good bacteria, and is effective at warding off gum disease. I enjoy using a fluoride mouthwash, but as I mentioned before, I’m on the lookout for plastic-free alternatives!
Anyway, back to green tea. According to nutritionfacts.org, “researchers found that green tea worked better than chlorhexidine at reducing plaque.” Green tea is also naturally high in fluoride! Sounds like a win-win if you ask me. I also found another study published in 2012 where researchers tested the effectiveness of green tea mouthwash at combatting oral malodor (bad breath), which found that “after using for 4 weeks, green tea mouthwash could significantly reduce [malodor] in gingivitis subjects without causing remarkable side effects.” The study also showed a reduced amount of plaque and gum bleeding when compared to a control group.
Excuse me while I go brew some green tea to keep by my bathroom sink! Usually, when I find a holistic remedy, my research is met by tons of studies showing no link between the so-called remedy and the issue I’m attempting to treat. I’m pleasantly surprised to see that green tea actually could be an effective mouthwash and I’m super excited to try this method out! I’ll spill the tea on my experience with it later ;)
Cover image via 9 Lives