While refined sugars and acids found in soda and citrus juice promote tooth erosion, brewed tea is a beverage that does not produce such irreversible results. Lime extracts and such sugars wear away the hard part of the teeth, or the enamel. Once tooth enamel is lost, it's gone forever.
Apart from tasting good, brewed tea has many health benefits. Tea is loaded with natural antioxidants, which are thought to decrease incidence of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.
For the study, lead author Mohamed A. Bassiouny, DMD, BDS, MSc, PhD, compared green and black tea to soda and orange juice in terms of their short- and long-term erosive effect on human teeth.
The study found that the erosive effect of tea was similar to that of water, which has no erosive effect. And, when comparing green versus black, he discovered that there is a better option among those as well.
"When we look at tea and read about the benefits, it's amazing-not because green tea is 'the in thing'-but because there are advantages," Bassiouny said.
He added that much research done overseas, in countries such as Japan and Europe, found that green tea was identified to being superior over black due to its natural flavonoids ie plant nutrients and antioxidants.
Experts suggest drinking drink tea without additives such as milk, lemon, or sugar because they combine with tea's natural flavonoids and decrease the benefits.
The also suggest to stay away from prepackaged iced teas because they contain citric acid and high amounts of sugars. It does not matter whether the tea is warm or cold-as long as it is home brewed without additives.
Kenton Ross, DMD, FAGD, AGD spokesperson, sees patients' erosion problems on a daily basis in his practice. "This study clearly shows that brewed teas resulted in dramatically less enamel loss than soft drinks and acidic juices. I would highly recommend patients choose tea as an alternative to more erosive drinks like soda and fruit juice."
The study is published in the July/August issue of General Dentistry, the clinical, peer-reviewed journal of the Academy of General Dentistry.