People are trying to make a big deal out of the ability to use green tea to reduce tooth sensitivity. However, people may be getting the wrong idea about this discovery, so we want to lay out the truth about what researchers found, and help you understand about proper treatments for reducing tooth sensitivity.
Drinking Green Tea Won’t Reduce Tooth Sensitivity
Most of the headlines about this discovery seem to imply that you’ll be drinking green tea to reduce your tooth sensitivity. This is not an accident. People are hoping you’ll click on the story because it’s more appealing to just drink tea to protect yourself from tooth sensitivity.
However, this is not the case. It has nothing to do with drinking green tea.
This is not to diminish the fact that drinking green tea can be good for your teeth.
What Researchers Discovered
The discovery which was published in ACS Applied Materials & Interface focused on the core problem that causes tooth sensitivity for many people. Dentin, the layer of tooth underneath the enamel, has tiny tubes in it that run from the surface to the tooth nerve. Normally, these are safely concealed under the tooth enamel, but if dentin gets exposed, these tubules can expose the tooth nerve to heat and cold. They also represent opportunities for oral bacteria to get hold and damage the tooth–dentin decays much more quickly than enamel.
To try to protect exposed dentin, some people have tried to use nanoparticles of hydroxyapatite, a mineral commonly used as a bone graft. Hydroxyapatite is the main mineral in both dentin and bone. The experiments haven’t worked as well as hoped, because the nanoparticles didn’t provide a strong block of the tubules.
However, researchers in this study found that encasing the nanoparticles in an extract of green tea, epigallocatechin-3-gallate, made the nanoparticules highly effective. They made a robust plug of the tubules, one that was resistant to abrasion, and even capable of resisting the infiltration of Streptococcus mutans, a common cavity-causing oral bacteria. They hope that this means they’ll have a new approach to treating tooth sensitivity.
Current Methods for Treating Exposed Dentin
Although this new potential treatment is exciting, let’s not forget that we currently have treatments that can reduce the sensitivity of your exposed dentin. One common way is a surface fluoride treatment. This helps remineralize your teeth, which can cut down on sensitivity. Desensitizing toothpastes also work by blocking up the tubes in your teeth. If your sensitivity is related to receding gums, a gum graft may help.
And if none of these work, it might be time to put a restoration like a dental crown on the tooth with eroded enamel, which can block off the tubules.