Your smile is one of the first features others may notice about you -- and what you eat and drink can affect the appearance of your teeth. A poor diet that is low in nutrients and high in sugar can erode your teeth, as well as lead to discoloration. Many beverages, such as tea, coffee and red wine, can also cause damage. However, tea may also offer protective benefits. Learn the pros and cons of how tea affects your teeth to help you decide whether this beverage has a place in your diet.
One of the primary drawbacks to drinking tea is the staining effect it can have on your teeth. Tea contains a substance called tannic acid, which is what gives it the dark color. If you have pits and grooves on your teeth, the tannic acid may settle into them, causing discoloration over time. Drinking water after tea, using a straw or wiping your teeth with a tissue may cut down on the rate of staining, Better Homes and Gardens reports. Your dentist may also be able to remove the stains through bleaching or whitening procedures.
Certain brands of bottled and sweetened teas contribute to dental erosion because of their sugar content. As you drink these types of teas, your teeth are bathed in sugar, which encourages erosion and dental cavities. The Academy of General Dentistry reports that canned and bottled iced teas can permanently damage your tooth enamel, which will soften your teeth and increase your risk of tooth loss and cavities. Unsweetened tea is a healthier option that does not include sugar.
Tea contains substances called polyphenols that may help protect your health. According to Narender Kumar Jain, Maqsood Siddiqi and J. H. Weisburger, authors of "Protective Effects of Tea on Humans," consuming the polyphenols in tea on a daily basis may help reduce and prevent gum inflammation that contributes to gingivitis, which can lead to tooth damage over time. While studies continue to determine a link, adding a glass of brewed and sugar-free tea to your daily diet may offer protective benefits.
A glass of tea also contains a wealth of antioxidants that contribute to good health and help prevent certain illnesses and disease. For example, a diet that includes plenty of antioxidants may reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. The antioxidants may also protect your teeth from erosion and cavities by supporting a healthy mouth. Reap these benefits from unsweetened and brewed tea rather than bottled and canned teas that contain added sugar.