The Surprising Drink That’s More Effective At Whitening Teeth Than Toothpaste

Tea, despite it’s myriad of health and beauty benefits, does have one pitfall—it can stain teeth.

But new research from the University of Alberta, shows that the solution to combating the unsightly discoloration could be as simple as adding some milk to your brew.

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“Tea is the second most consumed drink in the world and the way it’s processed effects how teeth are stained,” says Ava Chow, assistant professor at the University of Alberta School of Dentistry, and the lead researcher in the study. “But we’ve found that the addition of milk to tea reduces the tea’s ability to stain teeth.” 

In the experiment, Chow used two batches of already extracted human teeth as samples and exposed one to a controlled solution of pure tea, and the second to a solution that was 20% milk, 80% tea, each for 24 hours. Using a VITA Easyshade Compact Dental Spectrophotometer to take color readings, Chow found that teeth kept in the milky solution showed significantly less staining than the control group.

“The results we found showed that casein is the component of milk that is responsible for the reduction of tea-induced staining. The magnitude of the color change observed in our experiments is comparable to the color change seen by vital bleaching products and more effective than whitening toothpastes,” Chow concludes.

Casein is a protein that’s commonly found in mammalian milk so alternatives such as soy, rice or almond milk may not have the same stain-fighting benefits. For those who prefer not to take their tea with milk, the old standby trick— a quick teeth-brushing after drinking the beverage — can help decrease the chances of staining. 


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