Flashback Friday: What’s the Best Mouthwash?

Flashback Friday: What’s the Best Mouthwash?
4.44 (88.75%) 80 votes

There’s a cheap concoction one can make at home that safely wipes out cavity-forming bacteria on our teeth better than chlorhexidine mouthwash and also reduces their plaque-forming ability.

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The effects of a vegetarian diet on systemic diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart diseases have been studied, and revealed predominantly less systemic diseases in vegetarians, but there have only been a few studies on oral health, which I covered in previous videos… but what’s the latest? In a study of 100 vegetarians compared to a 100 nonvegetarians, the vegetarians had better periodontal conditions: less signs of inflammation like gum bleeding, less periodontal damage and a better dental home care, brushing and flossing 2.17 times a day compared to 2.02 times a day, not that much of a difference, so maybe it was something about their diet, though vegetarians may have a healthier lifestyle overall beyond just avoiding meat. They controlled for smoking, but other things like obesity can adversely affect oral health, so there may be confounding factors. What we need is an interventional study, where they take people eating the standard Western diet, improve their diets, and see what happens, but no such study existed, until now.

With professional support of nutritionists, the participants of the study with existing periodontal disease changed their dietary patterns to so-called wholesome nutrition, a diet emphasizing veggies, fruits, whole grains, potatoes, beans, peas, lentils, and spices with water as the preferred beverage. (What a concept.) To make sure any changes they witnessed were due to the diet, they made sure they maintained their same oral hygiene before and after the dietary change. What did they find? They found that eating healthier appeared to lead to a significant reduction of probing pocket depth, gingival inflammation, and levels of inflammatory cytokines, which mediate the tissue destruction in periodontal disease. So it may be concluded that wholesome nutrition may improve periodontal health. Why though? Yes, plant based diets have a number of nutritional benefits in terms of nutrient density, but it also may be about improving balance between free radicals and our antioxidant defense system.

Traditionally, dietary advice for oral health was just about avoiding sugar, which feed the bad bacteria on our teeth, but now we realize some foods and beverages, like green tea, possess antimicrobial properties to combat the plaque producing bacteria directly.

Streptococcus mutans has been identified as oral enemy #1. If plaque is caused by bacteria, why not just use antibiotics? Many such attempts have been made, however undesirable side-effects such as antibiotic resistance, vomiting, diarrhea and teeth stains have precluded their use. In a petri dish, green tea phytonutrients effectively inhibit the growth of these bacteria, but what about in our mouth? They found that rinsing with green tea strongly inhibited the growth of the plaque bacteria on our teeth within minutes. Seven minutes after swishing with green tea, the number of these bacteria in the plaque scrape from people’s teeth was cut nearly in half. So if you have people swish sugar water in their mouths, within three minutes the pH on our teeth can drop into the cavity formation danger zone. But if 20 minutes before swishing with sugar water, you swished with some green tea, you wipe out so many plaque bacteria that the same sugar water hardly has any effect at all. So, they conclude, using green tea as a mouthwash or adding it to toothpaste could be a cost-effective cavity prevention measure, especially in developing countries, because here in the civilized world we have antiseptic mouthwashes with fancy chemicals like chlorhexidine, considered the gold standard anti-plaque agent.

If only it didn’t cause genetic damage. DNA damage has been detected in individuals who rinsed their mouths with chlorhexidine-containing mouthwashes, and not just to cells in the mouth. 13 volunteers rinsed their mouths with the stuff for a few weeks and there was an increase in DNA damage both from the cells lining their cheeks as well as their peripheral blood cells, suggesting it was absorbed into their bodies. Yes, it reduced plaque better than other antiseptic chemicals, however, it might be doubtful whether chlorhexidine can still be considered the golden standard when considering how toxic it is to human cells.

So are we left with having to decide between effectiveness or safety? How about a head to head test between chlorhexidine and green tea? Green tea worked better than chlorhexidine at reducing plaque. So using green tea as a mouthwash may work cheaper, safer, and better. And if as a bonus you want to sprinkle some amla powder into it, dried Indian gooseberry powder, it evidently shows an outstanding cavity-stopping potential not by killing off the bacteria like green tea, but just by suppressing its plaque forming abilities. Here’s how much plaque is formed without amla, Here’s how much is formed with.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to treobenny via Flickr.

The effects of a vegetarian diet on systemic diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart diseases have been studied, and revealed predominantly less systemic diseases in vegetarians, but there have only been a few studies on oral health, which I covered in previous videos… but what’s the latest? In a study of 100 vegetarians compared to a 100 nonvegetarians, the vegetarians had better periodontal conditions: less signs of inflammation like gum bleeding, less periodontal damage and a better dental home care, brushing and flossing 2.17 times a day compared to 2.02 times a day, not that much of a difference, so maybe it was something about their diet, though vegetarians may have a healthier lifestyle overall beyond just avoiding meat. They controlled for smoking, but other things like obesity can adversely affect oral health, so there may be confounding factors. What we need is an interventional study, where they take people eating the standard Western diet, improve their diets, and see what happens, but no such study existed, until now.

With professional support of nutritionists, the participants of the study with existing periodontal disease changed their dietary patterns to so-called wholesome nutrition, a diet emphasizing veggies, fruits, whole grains, potatoes, beans, peas, lentils, and spices with water as the preferred beverage. (What a concept.) To make sure any changes they witnessed were due to the diet, they made sure they maintained their same oral hygiene before and after the dietary change. What did they find? They found that eating healthier appeared to lead to a significant reduction of probing pocket depth, gingival inflammation, and levels of inflammatory cytokines, which mediate the tissue destruction in periodontal disease. So it may be concluded that wholesome nutrition may improve periodontal health. Why though? Yes, plant based diets have a number of nutritional benefits in terms of nutrient density, but it also may be about improving balance between free radicals and our antioxidant defense system.

Traditionally, dietary advice for oral health was just about avoiding sugar, which feed the bad bacteria on our teeth, but now we realize some foods and beverages, like green tea, possess antimicrobial properties to combat the plaque producing bacteria directly.

Streptococcus mutans has been identified as oral enemy #1. If plaque is caused by bacteria, why not just use antibiotics? Many such attempts have been made, however undesirable side-effects such as antibiotic resistance, vomiting, diarrhea and teeth stains have precluded their use. In a petri dish, green tea phytonutrients effectively inhibit the growth of these bacteria, but what about in our mouth? They found that rinsing with green tea strongly inhibited the growth of the plaque bacteria on our teeth within minutes. Seven minutes after swishing with green tea, the number of these bacteria in the plaque scrape from people’s teeth was cut nearly in half. So if you have people swish sugar water in their mouths, within three minutes the pH on our teeth can drop into the cavity formation danger zone. But if 20 minutes before swishing with sugar water, you swished with some green tea, you wipe out so many plaque bacteria that the same sugar water hardly has any effect at all. So, they conclude, using green tea as a mouthwash or adding it to toothpaste could be a cost-effective cavity prevention measure, especially in developing countries, because here in the civilized world we have antiseptic mouthwashes with fancy chemicals like chlorhexidine, considered the gold standard anti-plaque agent.

If only it didn’t cause genetic damage. DNA damage has been detected in individuals who rinsed their mouths with chlorhexidine-containing mouthwashes, and not just to cells in the mouth. 13 volunteers rinsed their mouths with the stuff for a few weeks and there was an increase in DNA damage both from the cells lining their cheeks as well as their peripheral blood cells, suggesting it was absorbed into their bodies. Yes, it reduced plaque better than other antiseptic chemicals, however, it might be doubtful whether chlorhexidine can still be considered the golden standard when considering how toxic it is to human cells.

So are we left with having to decide between effectiveness or safety? How about a head to head test between chlorhexidine and green tea? Green tea worked better than chlorhexidine at reducing plaque. So using green tea as a mouthwash may work cheaper, safer, and better. And if as a bonus you want to sprinkle some amla powder into it, dried Indian gooseberry powder, it evidently shows an outstanding cavity-stopping potential not by killing off the bacteria like green tea, but just by suppressing its plaque forming abilities. Here’s how much plaque is formed without amla, Here’s how much is formed with.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to treobenny via Flickr.

Doctor's Note

I now just keep a mason jar filled with cold-steeped green tea (Cold Steeping Green Tea) with a spoonful of amla in the fridge and swish with it every night. For extra credit you can gargle a bit with it too (see my video Can Gargling Prevent the Common Cold?).

Green tea shouldn’t be the primary beverage of children, though, as the natural fluoride content may cause cosmetic spots on the teeth. For more check out my video Childhood Tea Drinking May Increase Fluorosis Risk.

Here’s the links to the two oral health videos I refer to in the video: Plant-Based Diets: Oral Health and Plant-Based Diets: Dental Health.

Another reason we may want to avoid antibacterial mouthwashes is that they can kill off the good bacteria on our tongue instrumental in enhancing athletic performance with nitrate-containing vegetables. See my video Don’t Use Antiseptic Mouthwash. What about Antibacterial Toothpaste: Harmful, Helpful, or Harmless?

Green tea doesn’t just kill off harmful bacteria, but harmful viruses as well. Check out Treating Genital Warts with Green Tea.

Need a reminder what amla is? More on dried Indian gooseberry powder power in Amla vs. Diabetes and The Best Food for High Cholesterol.

What about oil pulling? I’ve got you covered:

And here are some newer dental health vides—enjoy!

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

148 responses to “Flashback Friday: What’s the Best Mouthwash?

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  1. I have noticed the few times I brushed with baking soda, my teeth felt VERY clean and plaque free. I am afraid of using it because it might have some side effects. Are there studies about the use of baking soda on teeth?

    1. Just keep in mind that what you feel has ZERO correlation with the amount of actual plaque on your teeth. If you really want to see the bacteria on your teeth, get some red food coloring, put a drop in your mouth, swish around for a minute, and then look at the staining on the tooth structure above the gum line. That is bacterial biofilm (aka plaque) that will cause gingivitis that can lead to periodontitis. All available clinical studies clearly show that thorough brushing and flossing with the correct technique (that I see in very few patients unless professionally instructed) will remove 100% of the visible biofilm and that no toothpaste or other adjunct like baking soda will increase this. I.e. there are no short cuts.

      1. >> brushing and flossing with the correct technique Is there a youtube video or other instructional material of correct technique freely available that you are aware of?

  2. Don’t we want to leave some lingual bacteria around so that we can convert nitrate to nitrite? Do we lose this benefit if our oral hygiene is too effective?

    1. Streptococcus Mutans apparently flourish in an acidic environment. I don’t think they are the species that would be seeking out kale to convert nitrates to nitrites. Eating greens would bring the mouth into an alkaline range ph. Same with swishing with green tea though I question the amla. Wouldn’t it lower ph? I will get some testing strips and find out. Maybe swishing green tea has more to do with changing ph of the mouth than direct assault on microbes. Swishing with 1 tsp baking soda in a liter of water might accomplish the same thing?

    2. Unless you’re brushing your tongue with 8% bleach, then there will always be plenty of bacteria left behind to do what they need to do.

  3. FYI,, If one goes back to the original posting of this “Flashback” video, there are 181 comments in the comment section! Those comment might contain a lot of answers to questions that people may have about this video. Of course, that video was posted back in August 2014, so the comments there won’t be in “real time”. Just a suggestion for what it’s worth.

  4. The problem with green tea though is that it stains teeth. I don’t want that. I actually like to drink it, but stopped for that reason. I will only drink black tea, because you can dilute it with almond milk. Does anyone know if you can get the benefit of green tea without the staining somehow??

    1. Susan, I drink green tea all the time and don’t suffer from any staining, but I usually follow up by swishing with water to prevent any potential staining. Have you tried swishing with water when you’re done? Also, if you like iced tea, you could use a straw.
      I too avoid swishing with it for worrying about staining… once in a while I’ll do it and then sometimes I’ll do it but then I rinse with water right after and I’m not sure if that negates the benefits. I like to imagine that just drinking it has a similar effect if even to a lesser degree.

      1. I’m also not terribly concerned about having perfectly white teeth which aren’t even really natural, I just want them unstained and healthy.

      2. s,

        It seems like drinking it would have to have most of the effect if they are right about most of the mouth microbiome being on the tongue.

        Laughing. Some of us don’t swish with water or tea. I drink one or two green tea lattes per day and also drink water all day long. I do swish the water sometimes to clean the food particles from my teeth.

        Yesterday, they gave teeth brushing statistics and 50% of people don’t brush twice per day.

        50%.

        I might not be the only one with executive function problems.

        Mine are getting better after a week of upping my nutrition and using a Micropulse ICES to increase the blood circulation to my brain and help me sleep. I haven’t used it in 3 days and last night, I slept until my dog wanted to go out a few minutes ago so if part of my problem was circadian rhythms maybe a week was enough to fix things.

        I am so happy that I am sleeping and that my exercise function of my brain seems to be improving.

        There was a Pharma video on Parkinson’s which talked about the cells after a stroke not all being dead and that just increasing blood flow can help. Pulsed magnet does a lot more than that but that is one I can focus on.

        1. Glad things are going good for you, Deb!

          I used to brush every morning and every night and sometimes in between, but honestly I’ve found that since switching to a WFPB diet, I only actually NEED to brush once a day and that’s not for lack of caring (a healthy and fresh feeling mouth is very important to me, I can’t stand acids on the teeth or particles between the teeth!). I do brush before going out somewhere out of sheer habit, and I think it’s a good and reasonable habit.

          1. A tip for when your teeth feel especially coated from something acidic… I find those exfoliating shower gloves (which I cal ‘scrubby gloves’) work AMAZING at cleaning your teeth and making them shiny and smooth.

  5. “Another reason we may want to avoid antibacterial mouthwashes is that they can kill off the good bacteria . . .”

    One assumes that green tea is unable to distinguish between beneficial and harmful bacteria as well.

    Might I suggest BRUSHING your teeth with toothpaste and a small amount of green tea? The bacteria responsible for tooth decay hide-out around the gum level after all. And get an ultra-sonic toothbrush if you don’t already use one ~

    1. In previous videos Dr Greger mentioned that green tea did not destroy good bacteria. As per my post, above, this leads me to think green tea ousts streptococcus mutans by raising the ph and making the environment intolerable. Just a guess.

      1. Barb, Yes, I remember a previous video where it was mentioned that green tea didn’t kill the good bacteria, only the bad. But I can’t seem to find that video at the moment.

    2. Hi Navy Corpsman, thank you for the good discussions and comments. Yes, as you mentioned Dr Greger indicates that green Tea does not get rid of the good bacteria only the one that cause plaque. Also Amla evidently shows an outstanding cavity-stopping potential not by killing off the bacteria like green tea, but by actually suppressing the bacteria’s plaque forming abilities.

      https://nutritionfacts.org/2016/01/21/making-your-own-mouthwash/

      1. One wonders how green tea is able to distinguish between beneficial and harmful bacteria. Many bacteria can be both/neither (“commensal bacteria” as we say.)

        1. I have to agree with Navy Corpsman here.

          Quite how green tea or any other drug would magically distinguish between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria is beyond me.

          However, tea has a stronger effect on certain types of bacteria than it does on others (eg are the bacteria of interest Gram negative or Gram postive?) which could result in more ‘bad’ bacteria being killed than ‘good’. There is some evidence that green tea consumption may improve the balance of bacteria in the human gut so it’s entirely possible that the same thing could happen with the oral microbiome..
          https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1348-0421.2012.00502.x

          There appear to be quite a few studies showing that green tea kills bad mouth bacteria (and viruses) However, I don’t recall seeing any studies that show that tea leaves ‘good’ oral bacteria unharmed. Can anybody cite such a study?

          1. Mr Fumblefingers, as I suggested in my above posts, I agree with the both of you in that I don’t believe any magic is involved at all… although some of the papers I viewed went into great detail on processes I didnt understand. I was simply suggesting that the mechanism was partly due to the bad bacteria (streptococcus mutans was mentioned) requires an acidic environment to thrive. Sugar in the diet provides that. Green tea I would think raises the ph such that the streptococcus mutans decrease in numbers finding a higher ph inhospitable. Hence my question asking if a tsp of baking soda in a liter of water would , in part, accomplish the same thing.

        2. Hi, Navy Corpsman! I think it is not so much whether or not green tea can distinguish between beneficial and harmful bacteria as much as the bacteria being sensitive to and fed by different substances. For example, the beneficial bacteria in our intestines feed on things like dietary fiber, while the harmful ones feed on things like choline. The ones that survive and grow are the ones we feed. I hope that helps!

    3. I would not assume this about green tea, and as Barb pointed out, I’m right not to. My reasoning is just observation and total respect and faith in nature. I’ve seen enough studies to have observed how amazing plants are… plants and our bodies are so intelligent and enigmatic in design, at this point, I just put my faith in it and watch as the science reveals why I ought to.

      1. S, re: “… plants and our bodies are so intelligent and enigmatic in design, at this point, I just put my faith in it and watch as the science reveals why I ought to.”

        My sentiments ,too. Very well stated!

        I’m always trying to integrate in my brain the findings of “Reductionist” science and “Whole-ist” science! And also integrate nutrition knowledge with knowledge from other science fields such as archaeology, anthropology, physiology, etc.and especially evolution. It takes a lot of pondering :-)

        1. Not sure how you guys reconcile beliefs about intelligent design and evolution here? Aren’t they largely contradictory?

          1. Hi Fumbles, I think the way the sentences were constructed above, they could be interpreted in many ways. One reconciliation between intelligent design and evolution is that through evolution, all organisms become more suited to their environment (or else die off). So the ones that do remain are the ones that have the more “intelligent” design. It’s really just a loose use of the the word intelligent, which is ambiguous in the first place!. It appears that there is overwhelming evidence for “Darwinian” type evolution, but the degree of knowledge about the minute details of how “life” got started is still a mystery, so therefore, the term “enigmatic”.

            1. WFPB-Hal,
              I think that’s a stretch. It’s not just the use of the word “intelligent” that is loose, it’s also the use of the word “design”, which typically refers to some sort of plan for a particular outcome. The phrase”intelligent design” indicates something was designed specifically and intelligently for some goal (purpose, function), which is, of course, antithetical to the theory of evolution (random mutation along with natural selection). One can marvel at how adaptable populations of organisms can be or at the intricacy of their structure/function, but the underlying evolutionary mechanisms do not involve design, let alone intelligent design.

              1. gengo-gakusha, I don’t think that was a stretch. Design in itself means design, clearly there is a design inside every living organism. And indeed, there is a purpose and function of all living organisms. While there is a lot of tangible evidence and a lot of clever ideas that are able to make sense and go along with that tangible evidence, no theory in existence can prove or disprove how all things began and why or if there is a why or not. Quite literally, the design of our physiology and other living organisms is very intelligent in its design and function.

          2. Tom,

            I don’t see that as contradictory at all, personally. I find that in learning about the physical; the science, it’s best to concentrate on just that, the science. And focusing on the science alone goes to show how intelligent in design all things are.
            And I see science as an incredibly useful tool; a way for man to understand things within our grasp. Not necessarily a definitive but that the evidence can work at defining some things.
            I’m not sure why that would have to be separate from (if one believes this way) the idea of creationism or intelligent design apart from that not being a good scientific method to go by in regards to learning these things for very obvious reasons.
            For me, though, I find that amazingly, the science aligns uncannily with these things e.g compassion, justice, sustainability… all things usually always contributed to a higher power in almost every religion. So logic, health, etc. all seems to align with being a good and responsible person which I find absolutely incredible.
            I also think the wisest approach to learning and understanding anything is to first understand that we cannot fully understand anything.

            1. S, re: “I also think the wisest approach to learning and understanding anything is to first understand that we cannot fully understand everything.”

              I remember reading Plato/Socrates as a teenager. He said something very similar to your statement!

              Socrates: “The only true wisdom is in knowing that you know nothing.”

  6. Yes my husband drank a lot of green tea and his teeth went black around the edges.
    Not a good look. He drinks 1or 2 per day now.

    1. I drink lots of green tea… I have strong matcha in the morning and drink green tea a couple more times a day, but when I do, I make it strong. I might have an iced green/herbal tea blend in the middle of the day brewed with 4 green tea bags, for example. I don’t suffer from staining. I think habitually I rinse my mouth after eating or drinking anything other than water, but not obsessively.

  7. The NutritionFacts.org team is terrific on nutrition. Correct use of our language is important, too.
    “…just by suppressing it’s plaque forming abilities”
    should be
    “just by suppressing its plaque forming abilities”!

    C’mon, folks. This is stuff we learned in elementary school! : )

    1. Kind of an overly harsh way to point out a typo. The best of us have felt the shame and horror of seeing we had typed it’s instead of its despite knowing the difference. It happens.

  8. For what it’s worth, I had teeth problems all my life. Switched to a very low fat WFPB, no oil, no sugar, diet and tooth problems went away. I don’t have plaque, and don’t have stains. I don’t need to get my teeth cleaned any more. I don’t drink green tea or use it as a mouthwash. I do eat a bag of green tea every day though.

    1. “I do eat a bag of green tea every day though.”
      – – – – –

      You EAT it? Am trying to imagine how you’d do this….mixed with food? By itself? It doesn’t sound like anything I’d ever do. :-(

      1. YR, Blair, I found some of the matcha form of green tea recently, so I’ve been drinking that, with the solid tea leaf particles dissolved in the warm water. Tastes pretty good. If you want to get fancy, one could also make a Latte with it by using almond “milk”.

        1. Yes Hal, Mercury is no longer doing its (notice the “no” apostrophe, folks) backward boogie. We’re in the “shadow,” but I won’t explain that. Just be assured that things should get less aggravating or confusing as the days move forward. Supposedly. :-)

          I’m still wondering what Blair meant by his/her “eat” comment.

          I always drink my coffee and teas black, with nothing added. Green tea gives me headaches, so I avoid that kind.

            1. YR, Actually, you were right the first time: Mercury does possess the boogie but “its” is the possessive form of “it”, and “it’s” is a contraction of “it is/has” as in “it’s been fun”.

              1. AHso….this is a good example of always going with your first gut impulse. I was SO sure the first time. And then, lingering doubts crept in. (“Be gone, Satan!”)

                It’s the same with meeting people for the first time. The quick flash of eyeball contact, etc. can tell us a lot about somebody.

      2. I used to put a white/green tea bag into the blender along with a whole lot of other stuff to make smoothies. It’s also possible to add the contents of a tea bag to the blender when preparing green tea flavoured vegetarian ice cream. That’s a couple of ways you could eat tea leaves – I suppose that you could also add them to eg oatmeal or rice dishes.

        Hoowver, I stopped when I became hesitant about all the fluoride/aluminium/heavy metals concentrated in tea leaves. Presumably, consuming the actual leaves increases the risk of toxicity compared to drinking infusions made from the leaves. That’s also why I’ve never gone down the matcha road.

        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5800232/

        1. I do matcha every morning. I just go by Dr. Greger’s guidelines and stick to Matcha grown in Japan and get from responsible companies. I actually only get any green tea from Japan, now. My favorite is Choice Premium Japanese Green Tea.

          I’ve found that green tea helps with my anxiety. Also I notice a huge difference when sipping on tulsi tea—hoping Dr. Greger does a video on adaptive herbs.

          1. “I’ve found that green tea helps with my anxiety.”
            – – – – – –

            S….am curious. Is there anything in particular that makes you anxious?

            1. YR, it’s actually due to OCD which I’ve had about as severe as you can have it but through cognitive and exposure and response therapy along with mindfulness and healthy diet and lifestyle I have gotten under control.

    2. Laughing at the concept of just eating my tea.

      I enjoy green tea lattes too much.

      Haven’t noticed staining from it.

      Also didn’t see protection from it when I switched to non-fluoride toothpastes. My enamel was coming off. That seems to have stopped currently.

      I will be so bummed if it stains my teeth.

      Teeth is a very big topic for those of us who are trying to eat vegan. I watched a video where a lot of vegans were having teeth problems. Not sure how to put the pieces together. I guess citrus and hibiscus are my top guesses.

      You just eat

      1. Deb, that surprises me. I’ve experienced the exact opposite. I drink hibiscus everyday and a million other acidic things (ok, MAYBE not a million…). My oral health has never been better, I get compliments at check ups. I literally had a cavity heal itself, my gums never bleed anymore, and my tooth sensitivities went away. I do not use fluoridated toothpaste, in fact, I mostly brush with clay. The science seems to show that oral health improves upon a WFPB diet, but I believe Dr. Greger recommends swishing with water after meals and such to neutralize acid. Oh, I do drink my hibiscus with a straw most of the time. And, importantly, it is glass for sustainability.

        1. S,

          Some of my mouth things have improved.

          No more morning breath and I don’t need mouthwash for that purpose anymore.

          My mouth is moister. No more dry mouth.

          All of that is good for teeth.

          Enamel is where things started going wrong.

          Dr G did a video to not brush your teeth close to eating citrus and drink hibiscus with a straw but I don’t like drinking hot liquids through a straw..

          It could be that I was brushing too close to the tea.

          1. Maybe that was it. I don’t like drinking hot beverages through a straw, either. I only drink iced hibiscus (just cold brewed in the fridge), I actually don’t like it hot all that much.

  9. I see the dentist every six months without fail. I haven’t had cavities for years, since all my molars are filled with mercury since childhood. At my last checkup I had three small cavities at the base of the teeth. Even my dentist was surprised. I think I know the reason and told him: all the dried fruit I eat at night (raisins, dates, dried cranberries) without drinking water or green tea or brushing promptly. So my new year’s resolution for 2019 was brushing more often, and getting into the habit of drinking water after a meal.

    This month I spotted a tiny black spot at the base of a porcelain crown. I had no idea that a crown could decay. Time for an appointment with the dentist to check it.

    Thanks for the video.

    1. Porcelain and/or metal alloy crowns do not decay, but they do stain. The tooth just below the crown margin can decay.

      1. Barb, Thanks for finding that product. I, too, looked at the “Herbal” preparation they used in that study, but didn’t look up the product that contained all those herbs. Now I’m a little suspicious of the study, since they evidently used a commercial product for sale on the Internet!

        Hmmm, green tea is so inexpensive and readily available :-)

    1. Paul King, I looked at that study and one problem I found with it is that the trial period lasted only 2 weeks, whereas the research study where the dental benefits of green tea was found lasted a whole year. See link below for the full research paper on green tea.

      https://scholar.google.com/scholar_lookup?journal=J+Dent+Health&title=A+field+test+on+the+caries+preventive+effect+of+tea+drinking&author=M+Onisi&author=N+Shimura&author=C+Nakamura&author=M+Sato&volume=31&publication_year=1981&pages=13-9&

      Besides, the toxic nature of chlorhexidine eliminates the use of that, for me at least.

      And when I looked at the “Herbal” tea they used in the study you cited, the herbs they used were not readily available.
      ( The herbal mouthwash hiora was used for this study containing pilu (S. Persicus), Nagavalli, and pippermint satva, and suryakshara. Nagavalli piper betle exhibits antimicrobial, anti- inflammatory, and antioxidant properties.[16] Pilu (Salvadora persica) shows antioxidant properties. Peppermint containing menthol activates cold-sensitive TRPM8 receptors in the oral mucosa eliciting a “cold” sensation.[17] The Sanskrit name of potassium nitrate is “suryakshara” and it is used to reduce the pain of hypersensitive teeth through its desensitizing effect on dentinal nerves. It is alkaline in taste and cooling in nature.)

      I think I’ll just stick with using the green tea!

      1. Excellent points WFPB-Hal, gengo-gakusha, and Blair (in your comments above). After all is said and done, eating wfpb with lots of greens etc is going to be doing a lot for us. Chlorhexadine is out of the question for daily use anyway, and green tea offers lots of phytonutrients, inexpensively. I dislike drinking green tea hot, but have come to enjoy taking ‘swigs’, a là Greger, throughout the day.

        Re: herbal teas, In years past I found a big difference in ph amongst various herbal teas. Some of them can be quite acidic (bringing ph into cavity zone).

        1. May have misunderstood your reply to me.  Just for accuracy, best was chlor…, second was herbal mouth rinse, third was green tea

        1. “Green tea in quantity comes with its own set of issues.”

          What issues are you referring to? Dr. Greger recommends sipping throughout the day, or has in one video. But if women of a menstruating age are worried about iron, he recommends having tea between meals. Regardless of that, I can’t help but have to have green tea with certain Asian food.

  10. Does green tea work because it contains fluoride? Otherwise, is fluoride mouthwash and/or toothpaste recommended? My dentist strongly recommends them, but I’m concerned about any negative effects.

    1. Scott, I don’t believe in this case that it’s the fluoride that helps prevent the bacteria. However, if fluoride helps our enamel, I would assume the fluoride in tea would be beneficial and a safer alternative to a lot of the mouthwashes and toothpastes out there.
      If it helps in making your decision, I stopped using fluoridated toothpaste and actually started mainly brushing with bentonite clay along with switching to a WFPB diet and my teeth and gums have never been healthier and I actually had a cavity heal itself. I do drink green tea, maybe that helps. And there may actually be some naturally occurring fluoride in the clay I use, I’d have to check. I think all dentists recommend fluoride, like all dermatologist recommend layering your clothes and slathering yourself in spf in all seasons of the year. But I’m no authority on this, just sharing my opinion and anecdotal experience.

      1. S,

        Does it protect the enamel?

        My teeth and gums seem great with WFPB, but when I went off of my fluoride toothpaste, I did notice my enamel wearing away. That has stopped since I went back on it. I guess I am just not confident about teeth on this whole thing. I watched a video with a lot of vegan YouTubers who had teeth problems and my enamel and after a year WFPB my teeth have 2 spots where it looks like I scratched it off. I have been drinking green tea and I am not brushing near eating citrus. I may have messed up and brushed too close to hibiscus. Not sure. Either way, I went to a remineralizing toothpaste. Clay should be pretty mineralizing.

        I saw some charcoal kinds of toothpaste and almost tried them, but I tried some charcoal in shampoo and found out very quickly that I was highly allergic to it and crossed that off my toothpaste list.

        1. Deb, for me it’s been the opposite experience. I had a cavity from before going WFPB that healed itself (I wasn’t trying to wait it out, it was just due to lack of insurance at the time that I couldn’t take care of it) and I no longer get sensitivities and my teeth look whiter (probably due to plaque fighting benefits of a wfpb diet), and healthier gums–I used to bleed when I flossed sometimes and there were points where I was worried back in my SA(vegetarian)D where a couple of my teeth felt SLIGHTLY loose. All that improved and then some.
          I agree that the clay is probably very remineralizing so I did contribute both that and my dietary changes to my oral health improvements. And maybe some people just benefit more from fluoridated toothpaste and need it more. Maybe the clay actually takes its place just as well or better and maybe not. If you feel confident in experimenting a while you could, but thankfully there’s more natural forms of fluoridated toothpaste out there which I’m sure you’re probably more aware than me about. I used to use Toms of Maine.
          I do find the clay cleans very well, also, and is really good at getting rid of stains in my experience.

          Were you using a lot of baking soda at the time of your enamel erosion? I’ve already understood that using it too often can be harsh on the enamel.

          1. No, I wasn’t using baking soda.

            I have used toothpaste with baking soda before, but I did use a few Tom’s pastes and I think it was the fluoride free one from Toms when I looked at my teeth and thought I got something on one but looking closer it was an enamel issue.

            The fluoride toothpaste I had been using claimed to be protective and restorative so I just switched back and nothing new has happened.

    2. Hi, Scott! There appear to be a number of constituents of green tea that may promote oral health, and it may not be possible or prudent to try to isolate a single factor, because multiple phytochemicals in whole plant foods often work synergistically to produce benefits that none of them alone would provide. Green tea does include flouride, but it has many other phytochemicals that likely contribute to oral health benefits. You can find everything on this site related to dental health here: https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/dental-health/, everything about flouride here: https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/fluoride/, everything about toothpaste here: https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/toothpaste/, and everything about mouthwash here: https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/mouthwash/
      I hope that helps!

      1. Tom, Very interesting study. What struck me was how variable the results were.
        Overall 80 mg/mL concentrations were most effective. Unfortunately, they say that the average concentration in a single cup of green tea is only ~ 20mg/mL and that concentration was ineffective. Overall the effects of green tea on oral bacteria depend on variables that seem to me to be difficult to control. But then there is no harm in green tea, either.

  11. EVERYbody wants to get into the act. Now we have the DNADiet. You gotta send them a swab of your spit, see, so that you’re in their system. They’ll “accept” your DNA results from Ancestry.or 123&Me too. And then, boy, do they have the goods on you.

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/biancasalonga/2019/03/29/designing-health-and-wellness-through-dna/#3caa2e3f1daf

    Plenty of complaints about those DNA outfits: https://www.consumeraffairs.com/online/ancestry.html

    1. It’s a whole new market… imagine what insurance companies can do having your genetic information on hand. Privacy is soon to be completely extinct, it already practically is.

    2. Thanks. The complaints were interesting.

      I feel mixed about it. I want the police to be able to use these types of sites to solve murder cases, which some are. The number of cold cases solved already blows my mind. I suspect that criminals will figure out how to use it eventually and I suspect that there will be enough legal battles to make it worthless eventually. But 40% of murder cases are never solved and this is solving cold cases and may deter people from copycat fantasizing about murder.

      On the health side, I will never do it. WNPR had a talk about and knowing that you have a detrimental gene causes detrimental hormonal reactions in your body.

      The anti-placebo effect is enough for me to not want to have it done.

      That, plus all these con-sites and errors make me nervous.

      The gut microbiome testing had errors, too.

      I guess, if I was going to get it done, I might get it done from multiple sites. I just don’t have a reason to get it done and suspect that it would cause negative effects.

      1. All it would take would be one psychopath working at one of these places and they would have so much information on you and your family. That part freaks me out. The government using it terrifies me just as much.

        I feel that way about Facebook and the internet doing all of these companies, plus the government forcing you to put your name and address and all sorts of information on. The government forces businesses to do taxes on the internet. I used to be able to do it by mail or from a landline, but now I have to do it from the internet and KNOW that the government isn’t going to protect my workers. I hate that. I hate that the voter registration information is online, too. They did a series that people who are being stalked have to unregister to vote and have to change their names. Frustrating that they put these things online.

        1. Deb, I so agree. Anyone can look up almost anyone on google and quickly find their phone number, exact address, etc. etc… It’s a crime, it’s disgusting and it’s pathetic that society is so docile that this was able to go on and continues to be able to go on. No time for an uproar, too many series’ to watch and social media cites to keep updated and so on. Society is set up so perfectly for those with agenda and as long as the people are fed (with addicting saturated flavor) and constantly entertained in-between working for all the ever-growing shit we all need to be “happy,” we won’t even have time to notice and if we do, it will be harder to get off our overfed, over entertained and over busy asses to do anything about it.

  12. What do people use for food storage and for shopping? Bulk and produce.

    I have been looking at fabric and mesh bags and I have read Consumer Reports saying that most of the produce saver containers don’t work, but I still would like something to make my fridge more uniform inside. Having sleep made my brain clutter-free and having my brain clutter-free made my living areas and having my living areas clutter-free has made such a big difference in mindfulness. I don’t even have to work on it.

    I want that same sense of peace in my fridge.

    1. Deb, I reorganized our fridge a few months ago and it seems to be working out ok. Since we obviously eat a lot of produce, I bought a container with lid on it about 12 × 14 × 5 or 6 deep which I now put green/yellow type vegies in. I use them so much, it is convenient to reach in and grab the whole container. Root vegies like carrots, potatoes, etc go in the produce bin at the lowest level in the fridge. bags of apples or oranges sit on the shelf above. Garlic, ginger, onion, I keep on the shelf of the fridge door. Seems to be working so far. My goal in this is to aim for zero waste. I store leftovers in glass containers mostly.

    2. I agree, same here. Lack of clutter and organization is so beneficial to the mind! What I do for produce is after I wash my leafy vegetables, I let them dry enough and I wrap them in dishtowels and line them on the shelf/shelves for them (I eat a lot of leafy greens, lol). This is what keeps them freshest in my experience and it’s pretty organized. The summer is the best, though. I can just pick everything fresh out of the garden.

      I also have A LOT of jars. Jars are so convenient for storage. That’s where I store my cacao, amla, chlorella, ground flax (after I grind it, I keep it in a jar in the fridge), nutritional yeast, nuts and seeds, etc. Labels would help, too, but I haven’t gotten to that.

      I drink lots of tea and I have an entire cupboard with so many tea boxes, I want to make a pretty-looking wood tea box to keep all the tea bags in as opposed to just keeping them in the box they came in, I feel it would take up a lot less space.

  13. I have a q regarding the green tea and amla mouthwash.Is the mouth wash safe for 4-6 yrs old? I know kids should not drink green tea but how about using the mouth wash?

    1. S,

      Thanks for all of you contributions.

      That was interesting that the person got fluoride toxicity from too much tea.

      I love tea..

      Thinking about it right now, Hal, this video brings up fluoride toxicity. That means there is a level it becomes toxic, even when it is from tea. There might be a study saying how much is safe.

    2. S, Wow, that video is an “oldie but goodie” going back to 2010! Interesting that in the research paper on which it is based, drinking 7 or more cups of green tea per day leads to a big reduction in mortality:

      “The multivariate HRs and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for CVD mortality compared those who consumed seven or more cups per day with those who consumed less than one cup per day, were 0.24 (0.14-0.40), 0.30 (0.15-0.61), and 0.18 (0.08-0.40) for total participants, men, and women, respectively.”

      But as you mentioned, Dr G recommends an upper limit of 10 cups per day. Here’s the research paper link:

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19628408

      1. Thanks for the info and link, Hal! This is purely speculation, but I would GUESS that Dr. Greger’s upper limit is reduced even lower than it might need to be because he tends to, in my opinion, err on the side of caution–an understandable and respectable approach.

  14. Time for bed for me.

    I was so happy about the improvements in my brain that I suddenly got scared.

    Fixing a brain isn’t a straight line.

    I can point to 20 things that are better about my brain and then I can point to suddenly having a moment of fear and I am not going to focus on the fact that my brain isn’t perfect yet.

    1. “and I am not going to focus on the fact that my brain isn’t perfect yet.”

      That is smart, Deb. Much healthier for your brain and overall well-being. Focusing on the negative may actually make it worse. Whenever I’ve read about people using a combination of diet, lifestyle, and meditation/mindfulness to reverse disease or injury, they always focused on the positive and belief that they were healing. Similar to the study Dr. Greger has in one of the videos around here where people with broken bones were given an image of a healed bone to look at, and the rate of their healing was significantly increased.

      1. Yes, I am a Christian and positive thinking and positive confession and faith and hope and staying present-minded are all part of our daily disciplines. Or are supposed to be.

        There is a scripture which starts: be anxious for nothing….

        I still get night terrors sometimes.

        My brother is going to be examined for a blood clot and it is like things are happening so nonstop that it tempts me to be anxious, but I know having an injured brain has made me more susceptible.

        I joke about placebo effect, but I have faith that thing after thing after thing will work together for good.

        Night terrors are scary though.

        I don’t get them often anymore.

        Just occasionally, but it is always so disappointing because I am seeing constant improvement.

        1. “There is a scripture which starts: be anxious for nothing….”

          I love that.

          Deb, I so agree that all these factors work together. To me, the placebo effect is indicative of how powerful our minds are.

          I hope things keep getting better and better for you! And I’m sorry to hear about your brother… hope things turn out well for him.

  15. Recently had lower wisdom tooth outside gum soreness. Used hot salt water to lift out infection. Then a green tea bag placed in the gum groove for soothing and healing. Didn’t worry about acid because green tea is alkaline. Back to normal now.

  16. Hi Health seekers: What do you think of rinsing mouth w/ water after using green tea mouthwash? Do you think Green Tea rinse might stain the teeth? Thanks Shaun

    1. That is usually what I do if I ever swish with it because I would worry about staining. I actually love drinking green tea or matcha and do a couple times a day on average, I imagine even just drinking it helps keep plaque-causing bacteria away especially as it’s been pointed out in comments that most of the bacteria is on our tongue.

      I would be interested in what Dr. Greger has to say in regards to staining if using it as a mouthwash regularly without rinsing with water.

      1. I’m using green tea mouth wash & then brushing w/ whitening toothpaste a couple hours later. Just guessing. Appreciate all the replies. T Shaunhanks

    2. @Shaun

      Green tea prevents plaque bit it can also stain your teeth with it’s phytochemicals. Try to rinse with Amla powder instead, it has similar anti plaque effects.

  17. PS on that oil pulling thing.

    the American Dental Association (ADA) says that there are no trustworthy scientific studies to support the claims that oil pulling protects the mouth and teeth. Therefore, the ADA doesn’t recommend using coconut oil as part of your oral hygiene practice.

    The National Institutes of Health explains that lauric acid, which is a major component of coconut oil, may have antibacterial properties. Even so, this does not support the notion that coconut oil can restore the enamel or regrow teeth. Coconut oil has also been credited with helping restore receding gums and whiten teeth, but these claims have also not been scientifically proven.

    1. Please Dr Greger can you make a quick guide on how long to steam vegetables one we can look up on your DailyDozen for quick reference. Eg steam asperaugus 5 min to retain vitamins

      1. Dr Greger made a couple of videos about cooking methods. https://nutritionfacts.org/video/best-cooking-method/ Basically it comes down to cooking veggies the way you like them, (except frying).
        As for steaming, times can vary even with the same veg like broccoli for example, depending on how big the pieces are, etc. I just test for doneness as it’s cooking being sure to not let it overcook.

  18. @Shaun

    Please don’t rinse your mouth with Amla powder, it does remove plaque but these berries are highly acidic. It would erode your enamel and unfortunately IT CAN NEVER GROW BACK. Prevention is key, brush your teeth 3 times a day with a toothpaste that has a low RDA (20-50) and use a waterpik. Switch between an electric and a normal brush for less abbresion and always choose the sofestest brush there is. “Extra extra extrememly sensitive soft toothbrush” the industry would say on the package. Don’t use mouthwashes, no coconut oils, no green tea (staining danger), no amla powder, just rinse with water after every meal.

    1. Netgogate, why did you first suggest swishing with amla then suggest not? Weren’t thinking about acidity at first? Just mildly curious.

  19. I drink green tea daily so it would be easy enough to incorporate swishing the tea in my mouth before swallowing. But, I am worried about the tea staining my teeth. Would following the tea swish with a swish of water undo the benefits of the tea?

    1. Same here, I have the same question. Though some of the commenters suggested that sipping on green tea throughout the day will likely have a similar effect and as one pointed out, most of the bacteria is on our tongue so that makes sense.
      What I’ve just started doing is just swishing with amla to avoid any potential staining.

      1. Hmm, now reading Netgogate’s comment above yours has me worried about that. I’d rather have stains than enamel erosion.

        Well swishing with water and brushing with clay, flossing, and drinking green tea and consuming amla along with my WFPB diet has been working for me so far. I’ll just stick to swishing with amla and tea once in a while and rinsing shortly after.

  20. Hello Jonathan,

    The study in the video had the participants rinse for 30 seconds each time.

    I hope this helps,

    Matt, Health Support

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