Is Tea Bad for Your Teeth?
Your smile is often the first thing others may notice about you, and what you eat and drink can affect the appearance of your teeth. A poor diet that is low in nutrients and high in sugar can erode your teeth and lead to discoloration. Beverages that many people drink every day can cause damage to your teeth.
It is a common belief that coffee is the biggest culprit when it comes to staining teeth, however, some studies have shown that tea may actually be worse for your teeth than coffee. Furthermore, research is showing that “healthier” drink choices like juice, diet soda, and even tea are not much better than sugary soft drinks when it comes to making a healthier choice for your mouth.
How Does Tea Hurt Your Teeth?
Two things can happen when you drink certain beverages such as coffee, tea, wine, sports drinks, soda, and citrus juices. First, they can have a staining effect on your teeth. There are three main substances that cause stains on your teeth—chromogens, tannins, and acids. Tea contains acid and tannins, which cause discoloration of your teeth over time.
Second, these beverages can erode your teeth. Dental erosion occurs when the enamel (the hard, protective coating on your teeth) is eaten away by acid. Certain brands of bottled and sweetened teas especially contribute to dental erosion because of their sugar content. Dental erosion can lead to cavities as well as other health problems.
It is important to note that teas that are less rich in tannins, such as green, white, or herbal tea are not as likely to discolor your teeth as black tea, but they may cause just as much erosion.
Do I Have to Stop Drinking Tea?
Don’t worry—you don’t have to stop drinking tea completely. If you don’t want to stop drinking tea, or any other beverage that may be damaging your teeth, there are actions you can take to decrease the damage it is causing to your teeth.
- Brush your teeth immediately after drinking tea
- Alternate between sips of tea and water, or rinse your mouth with water after drinking tea
- Use a straw; this prevents the tea from bathing your teeth in harmful substances
- Drink in moderation; cut back to drinking tea a few times a week instead of twice a day
- Switch to unsweetened tea
It’s not all bad news—tea contains antioxidants that contribute to good health and help prevent certain illnesses and disease. Make sure you are drinking unsweetened or brewed tea, though, rather than bottled or canned tea with added sugar.
If you drink tea or any other beverage that may be damaging your teeth, it is especially important to maintain good oral health practices. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss every day, and visit your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings.