Tea, an ally for oral bacteria?

According to American researchers, the mouths of tea lovers are home to more beneficial bacteria and fewer harmful bacteria such as those capable of causing cavities.


The second most consumed drink in the world, tea is enjoying growing success. In France alone, two in three people drink it every day.  And it is not only its fragrant flavors that are pleasing: its health benefits as well! According to a recent study, tea is associated with a better balance of the bacterial flora in our mouth. Coffee on the other hand does not seem to have a major impact on this population of 600 bacteria.

More beneficial bacterial species in the mouth

To draw this observation, the team of American scientists sampled the saliva and sputum of 938 individuals. These analyses were supplemented by a questionnaire on the life habits of the volunteers,  particularly their favorite drinks.  A large majority drank coffee and/or tea every day. In comparison with those who never drank it, lovers of theine had a richer oral bacterial flora–a trend more pronounced with each cup drunk daily. The mouths of these individuals harbored more beneficial species, and in larger quantities, especially among those who drank a lot of tea (3 cups or more per day). This gain in abundance, diversity and composition was not found in the coffee drinkers.

Each tea has its own action?

According to other studies, drinking tea regularly is thought to be associated with a reduction in oral infections and ENT cancers. This study suggested a possible explanation: tea consumption might be associated with lower numbers of the bacteria responsible for dental cavities and periodontal diseases. The beverage is moreover thought to contain active compounds, which vary according to the fermentation level of the leaves and their origin, and which are capable of acting against certain bacteria. The researchers remind us that it is appropriate to be cautious: establishing a cause and effect relationship between tea consumption and the composition of the oral microbiota is for the moment premature. So, while waiting for the results of future studies, make your choice: black or green tea?



Peters BA, McCullough ML, Purdue MP et al., Association of coffee and tea intake with the oral microbiome: results from a large cross-sectional study. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev Published OnlineFirst April 27, 2018.