Childhood Tea Drinking May Increase Fluorosis Risk

Childhood Tea Drinking May Increase Fluorosis Risk
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Green tea consumption may help prevent cavities, but excessive consumption among young children may lead to dental fluorosis, due to the natural fluoride content of the plant.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

If cranberries are so good at keeping bacteria from sticking to the wall of the bladder, what about keeping bacteria from sticking to other places? Well, there’s in vitro research suggesting cranberry phytonutrients may reduce adhesion of H. pylori bacteria to the wall of the stomach, and so maybe should be given, along with antibiotics, to help eradicate this ulcer-causing bacteria.

And hey, what about our teeth? Our dental plaque is bacteria sticking to our teeth—particularly Streptococcus mutans. We’ve known that those with different drinking habits—be they coffee, tea, barley coffee, or wine—have about ten times less of this plaque bacteria. Since those are all beverages from plants, maybe phytonutrients are fighting back at plaque.

If bacteria cause plaque and cavities, why not just swish with some antibiotic solution, either synthetic or natural? Well, there are downsides to just indiscriminately wiping out bacteria, both good and bad, as I detailed in my antiseptic mouthwash video. So, maybe if we just stop the bad bugs from sticking to our teeth?

Well, there is some evidence that cranberries might affect the adhesion of bacteria to fake teeth in a petri dish, but nothing yet definitive. Green tea also appears to help prevent cavities, which may be because of its natural fluoride content from the tea plant. I have a video about a woman who developed fluoride toxicity, drinking up to like five dozen cups a day. But, what about just regular consumption?

Well, during the tooth development years, up to about age nine, children exposed to too much fluoride can develop dental fluorosis—a mottled discoloration of the teeth. It’s just a cosmetic issue, and usually just kind of faint white spots, but is the main reason the EPA is reconsidering current tap water fluoridation levels.

Currently, the suggested upper limit in water is 2 parts per million of fluoride, and the mandatory upper limit is 4. Herbal teas were fine; about a hundred-fold under this limit. But, caffeinated teas exceeded the suggested limit, and decaf teas exceeded the mandatory limit.

Remember, though, that’s the limit for tap water. So, tea drinking would only pose much of a risk if kids drank it all day long as their primary beverage. So, in terms of the dental ramifications, kids who primarily drank non-herbal tea as a source of hydration may be at risk for dental fluorosis.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Nicole Lee and Dozenist via Wikimedia

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

If cranberries are so good at keeping bacteria from sticking to the wall of the bladder, what about keeping bacteria from sticking to other places? Well, there’s in vitro research suggesting cranberry phytonutrients may reduce adhesion of H. pylori bacteria to the wall of the stomach, and so maybe should be given, along with antibiotics, to help eradicate this ulcer-causing bacteria.

And hey, what about our teeth? Our dental plaque is bacteria sticking to our teeth—particularly Streptococcus mutans. We’ve known that those with different drinking habits—be they coffee, tea, barley coffee, or wine—have about ten times less of this plaque bacteria. Since those are all beverages from plants, maybe phytonutrients are fighting back at plaque.

If bacteria cause plaque and cavities, why not just swish with some antibiotic solution, either synthetic or natural? Well, there are downsides to just indiscriminately wiping out bacteria, both good and bad, as I detailed in my antiseptic mouthwash video. So, maybe if we just stop the bad bugs from sticking to our teeth?

Well, there is some evidence that cranberries might affect the adhesion of bacteria to fake teeth in a petri dish, but nothing yet definitive. Green tea also appears to help prevent cavities, which may be because of its natural fluoride content from the tea plant. I have a video about a woman who developed fluoride toxicity, drinking up to like five dozen cups a day. But, what about just regular consumption?

Well, during the tooth development years, up to about age nine, children exposed to too much fluoride can develop dental fluorosis—a mottled discoloration of the teeth. It’s just a cosmetic issue, and usually just kind of faint white spots, but is the main reason the EPA is reconsidering current tap water fluoridation levels.

Currently, the suggested upper limit in water is 2 parts per million of fluoride, and the mandatory upper limit is 4. Herbal teas were fine; about a hundred-fold under this limit. But, caffeinated teas exceeded the suggested limit, and decaf teas exceeded the mandatory limit.

Remember, though, that’s the limit for tap water. So, tea drinking would only pose much of a risk if kids drank it all day long as their primary beverage. So, in terms of the dental ramifications, kids who primarily drank non-herbal tea as a source of hydration may be at risk for dental fluorosis.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Nicole Lee and Dozenist via Wikimedia

Doctor's Note

What may be the best source of hydration for kids? See Does a Drink of Water Make Children Smarter?

Might tea also cause dehydration? Check out Is Caffeinated Tea Dehydrating?

Beyond cosmetic issues, what should we eat and drink to keep our mouth healthy? See Plant-Based Diets: Oral Health and Plant-Based Diets: Dental Health.

What was that about cranberries keeping bacteria from sticking to the wall of the bladder? See Can Cranberry Juice Treat Bladder Infections?

The mouthwash video I reference is: Don’t Use Antiseptic Mouthwash, and the fluoride toxicity case report is covered in Overdosing on Tea.

What about all those folks who say fluoride is a poison, to be avoided at all costs? I offer my brief two cents in my Q&A The dangers of fluoride (tap water fluoridation)? 

And, there are elements for which there is no safe level of exposure. I explore a few in my next video, Fukushima & Radioactivity in Seafood.

For further context, check out my associated blog post: Tea & Fluoride Risk.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

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