Green Tea as a Mouthwash for Halitosis (Bad Breath)

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Green tea can help reduce plaque as much as the gold-standard chemical mouthwash without its side effects, but what about other aspects of oral health, such as bad breath?

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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.

Tea is the second most widely consumed beverage in the world, after water, to the tune of billions of pounds every year. In my last video I showed how drinking green tea after eating garlic helps deodorize your breath. But what about drinking green tea to deodorize regular bad breath without the garlic?

There have been a lot of studies on the effect of green tea on other aspects of oral health. For example, green tea appears to work as well as chlorhexidine for reducing plaque, and chlorhexidine is like the gold standard. Green tea is safer too. Chlorhexidine has so many side effects you’re not supposed to use if for more than a short time period––side effects like discoloration of the teeth, increased formation of tartar, impairment of taste sensation, and occasionally damage to the inner lining of your mouth, whereas, if anything, drinking green tea appears to have good side effects.

Tea consumption is associated with living a longer life thanks to links to less cardiac death, heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes—and not just by a little. A three-cup (720 ml) a day increase in tea consumption per day is associated with a 24 percent decreased risk of premature death from all causes put together––the equivalent of adding about two years onto your lifespan. The longevity link extends to both green tea and black, though the per cup effect appears greater with green.

If you compare the anti-microbial efficacy of green tea and chlorhexidine mouth rinses against the bacteria associated with tooth decay in children with severe early childhood cavities, this study found that a green tea mouth rinse was superior to chlorhexidine. But this study found the opposite. Chlorhexidine wiped out like 95 percent of the decay bacteria, versus more like 70 percent for green tea. But just rinsing with water alone can cut levels in half. So, in terms of protecting teeth, the effectiveness of green tea as a mouth rinse agent has not been proven. But what about for bad breath?

The effect of green tea on halitosis has evidently been well known from early times, perhaps due to the deodorizing activity of certain antioxidant polyphenols. But you don’t really know until you put it to the test.

This study found that sucking on green tea tablets reduced stinky breath compounds. But who sucks on tea tablets? Here, green tea was compared to breath mints, chewing gum, and parsley oil, and green tea seemed to help. But it did not reach statistical significance. But again, this wasn’t drinking or swishing with green tea, but rather some green tea power sprinkled on people’s tongues. This study used actual tea, and found that one minute later, swishing with green tea was no better than swishing with water.

Okay, but what about chronic use over time? This is the study I had been looking for. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in which people rinsed their mouths twice a day for a month with a green tea mouthwash, or a similar looking and tasting placebo mouthwash. And at the end of the month, the stinky bad breath compounds were reduced nearly 40 percent in the green tea group, versus closer to only 10 percent in the placebo group.

Bottom line: a systematic review on the effect of the tea plant on decreasing the level of halitosis concluded that green tea mouthwash can indeed reduce bad breath––though they don’t feel the evidence is sufficiently robust for dentists to start recommending it on its own, due to lack of enough randomized clinical studies. But green tea mouthwash can be a good treatment of choice beside other halitosis treatments, like tongue scraping, to achieve better clinical results.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Motion graphics by Avo Media

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.

Tea is the second most widely consumed beverage in the world, after water, to the tune of billions of pounds every year. In my last video I showed how drinking green tea after eating garlic helps deodorize your breath. But what about drinking green tea to deodorize regular bad breath without the garlic?

There have been a lot of studies on the effect of green tea on other aspects of oral health. For example, green tea appears to work as well as chlorhexidine for reducing plaque, and chlorhexidine is like the gold standard. Green tea is safer too. Chlorhexidine has so many side effects you’re not supposed to use if for more than a short time period––side effects like discoloration of the teeth, increased formation of tartar, impairment of taste sensation, and occasionally damage to the inner lining of your mouth, whereas, if anything, drinking green tea appears to have good side effects.

Tea consumption is associated with living a longer life thanks to links to less cardiac death, heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes—and not just by a little. A three-cup (720 ml) a day increase in tea consumption per day is associated with a 24 percent decreased risk of premature death from all causes put together––the equivalent of adding about two years onto your lifespan. The longevity link extends to both green tea and black, though the per cup effect appears greater with green.

If you compare the anti-microbial efficacy of green tea and chlorhexidine mouth rinses against the bacteria associated with tooth decay in children with severe early childhood cavities, this study found that a green tea mouth rinse was superior to chlorhexidine. But this study found the opposite. Chlorhexidine wiped out like 95 percent of the decay bacteria, versus more like 70 percent for green tea. But just rinsing with water alone can cut levels in half. So, in terms of protecting teeth, the effectiveness of green tea as a mouth rinse agent has not been proven. But what about for bad breath?

The effect of green tea on halitosis has evidently been well known from early times, perhaps due to the deodorizing activity of certain antioxidant polyphenols. But you don’t really know until you put it to the test.

This study found that sucking on green tea tablets reduced stinky breath compounds. But who sucks on tea tablets? Here, green tea was compared to breath mints, chewing gum, and parsley oil, and green tea seemed to help. But it did not reach statistical significance. But again, this wasn’t drinking or swishing with green tea, but rather some green tea power sprinkled on people’s tongues. This study used actual tea, and found that one minute later, swishing with green tea was no better than swishing with water.

Okay, but what about chronic use over time? This is the study I had been looking for. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in which people rinsed their mouths twice a day for a month with a green tea mouthwash, or a similar looking and tasting placebo mouthwash. And at the end of the month, the stinky bad breath compounds were reduced nearly 40 percent in the green tea group, versus closer to only 10 percent in the placebo group.

Bottom line: a systematic review on the effect of the tea plant on decreasing the level of halitosis concluded that green tea mouthwash can indeed reduce bad breath––though they don’t feel the evidence is sufficiently robust for dentists to start recommending it on its own, due to lack of enough randomized clinical studies. But green tea mouthwash can be a good treatment of choice beside other halitosis treatments, like tongue scraping, to achieve better clinical results.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Motion graphics by Avo Media

Doctor's Note

If you missed the previous video, check out How to Get Rid of Garlic Breath.

I originally discussed green tea as a mouthwash in What’s the Best Mouthwash?.

You can also watch the recording of my webinar, How to Naturally Treat Halitosis, which includes nine videos plus a Q&A.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here. Read our important information about translations here.

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