The study, which was published in the Journal of Periodontology, the official publication of the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP), was led by Yoshihiro Shimazaki of Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan.
“It has been long speculated that green tea possesses a host of health benefits,” said Shimazaki. “And since many of us enjoy green tea on a regular basis, my colleagues and I were eager to investigate the impact of green tea consumption on periodontal health, especially considering the escalating emphasis on the connection between periodontal health and overall health.”
The researchers chose 940 men, from 49-59 years of age, and found that those who regularly drank greater amounts of green tea had better periodontal health than those who drank less. The team judged gum health using three negative indicators: periodontal pocket depth (PD), clinical attachment loss (CAL) of gum tissue, and bleeding on probing (BOP) of the gum tissue.
The scientists discovered that each of the three indicators dropped for every cup of green tea consumed per day. This meant there was a positive correlation between green tea consumption and improved periodontal health.
Since increasing PD, CAL and BOP are all signs of inflammation, the researchers speculated that green tea’s antioxidant catechin may be at work to prevent periodontal disease. Antioxidants in general have been shown to reduce inflammation, which in the case of the mouth is caused by bacteria.
“Periodontists believe that maintaining healthy gums is absolutely critical to maintaining a healthy body,” said David Cochran, president of the AAP and chairman of the Department of Periodontics at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. “That is why it is so important to find simple ways to boost periodontal health, such as regularly drinking green tea – something already known to possess certain health-related benefits.”