The most common cause of receding gums is gum disease, which has also been linked to dozens of other serious health conditions, including kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes, and more. In an attempt to reduce the risk of gum disease, some manufacturers have introduced toothpaste containing the antibiotic triclosan.
You may remember that triclosan was recently at the center of controversy when the FDA declared that antibacterial soaps with that ingredient had no evidence of effectiveness. This despite the fact that there is evidence of potential harm from triclosan, such as problems with hormone regulation. Because it has been used in antibacterial soaps and even in antimicrobial cutting boards, about 80% of people have triclosan in their system. On the other hand, triclosan has been shown to result in some protective effect against gum disease, but only mild gum disease, gingivitis.
If we could find a replacement to this chemical antibiotic that might provide better protection from receding gums with less risk it would benefit not only us but the environment as well (because triclosan pollution is harmful to animals). Now some researchers believe they have found the secret in the form of toothpaste derived from green tea extract.
Testing the Toothpaste on Gum Disease
To test the effectiveness of the green tea toothpaste, researchers divided thirty patients into two groups, either a test group or a control group. The control group was given a triclosan toothpaste. The test groups was given not only the green tea toothpaste, but also instructions on brushing.
The groups were allowed to brush with their assigned toothpaste for our weeks. Then researchers measured many indicators of gum disease severity and compared them with values from before patients started the experiment.
The measured values included:
- Probing depth
- Number of sites where probing caused gums to bleed
- Gingival index
- Plaque index
- Gum height
- Antioxidant capacity
- Glutathione-S-transferase activity
The group that was given green tea toothpaste had significantly more improvement in many aspects of gum health, including: gum height, bleeding on probing, antioxidant levels, and glutathione-S-transferase activity. Glutathione-S-transferase activity is important because it shows how stressed an area is by toxic activity.
But Is Green Tea Really Better?
This study gives compelling evidence that natural substances can be effectively used as antibacterial treatments rather than relying on dangerous chemicals. In particular, it was nice to see that the green tea toothpaste did better at preserving or restoring gum height, a measure of receding gums.
But we do have to keep in mind several limitations of this study. Perhaps the most important limitation is that it isn’t really comparing apples to apples. Giving people instructions on how to brush has been shown to make a significant impact on how well they are able to clean their teeth. That gave the green tea toothpaste a possibly unfair advantage. And even if the green toothpaste were superior to the triclosan toothpaste, you have to know that the toothpaste was specially formulated for this experiment–it’s not a commercial brand you can just go and pick up. We don’t know whether any of the commercial green tea toothpastes available are actually superior to a triclosan-containing toothpaste.
Another important concern (which may seem trivial at first) is whether the green tea toothpaste will stain teeth. Green tea is among the worst staining drinks, so something would have to be done about that if the toothpaste were ever to become marketed on any large scale.
Prevention is the best way to protect your mouth from receding gums. But prevention doesn’t always work. If you have suffered receding gums, we can reverse the damage and restore your gums to a more youthful, healthy position. Please call (310) 275-5325 in Beverly Hills or (949) 551-5902 in Orange County for a consultation.