Adding milk to tea can prevent stained teeth

August 14, 2015 by Tarwinder Rai, University of Alberta
Ava Chow found that adding milk to tea significantly reduces the tea's ability to stain teeth.

The next time tea drinkers steep another cup, they may want to consider adding a splash of milk if they want to keep their teeth white.

"Tea is the second most consumed drink in the world, and the way it's processed affects how are stained. The more the tea is processed or oxidized, the higher its staining properties are," says Ava Chow, an assistant professor in the University of Alberta's School of Dentistry. "But we've found that the addition of milk to tea reduces the tea's ability to stain teeth."

Chow designed her study on prevention of tea-induced extrinsic tooth stain as a way to introduce undergraduate dental hygiene students to research. But her findings give a whole new meaning to the term "double-double."

Casein, the main protein in milk, was found to bind to the tannins—water-soluble compounds that are responsible for much of the staining properties of tea—and prevent teeth staining, explains Chow.

Using already extracted as samples, Chow and her students first recorded and determined the colour of the natural teeth before exposing them to the staining procedure. They excluded teeth that had fillings, signs of tooth decay, or obvious cracks and fractures.

The teeth were then divided and placed in either a controlled solution of tea, or a solution of tea with milk for 24 hours at 37 C. Colour readings were then taken again.

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

But Chow notes that the social context of tea may have to be considered before dentists start recommending that patients take milk with their tea.

"Adding milk to tea is a culture-specific phenomenon. Some cultures may refuse to add it and others only drink with ."

Explore further: Herbal tea offsets colon cancer risk

More information: "Prevention of tea-induced extrinsic tooth stain." International Journal of Dental Hygiene DOI: 10.1111/idh.12096

Related Stories

Herbal tea offsets colon cancer risk

May 12, 2014
People who drink herbal tea, even as little as once a week, may have a reduced risk of distal colon cancer, according to local collaborative research.

A new role for milk: Delivering polyphenols with anti-cancer activity

December 19, 2013
Polyphenols found in tea manifest anti-cancer effects but their use is limited by poor bioavailability and disagreeable taste. A new study in the Journal of Dairy Science finds that when epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), the ...

Helping stroke patients to regain their independence

May 4, 2015
Strokes are the second leading cause of death worldwide; they kill more than one million people in Europe each year accounting for 14% of all deaths. About a third of the 8 million stroke survivors in the EU are left with ...

Recommended for you

Lack of guidance may delay a child's first trip to the dentist

February 19, 2018
Without a doctor or dentist's guidance, some parents don't follow national recommendations for early dental care for their children, a new national poll finds.

Researcher uses stem cells to attack bacteria and regenerate dental pulp

February 7, 2018
Emi Shimizu's research could someday transform a procedure dental patients dread: the root canal.

Cavity prevention approach effectively reduces tooth decay

January 22, 2018
A scientifically based approach that includes a tooth-decay risk assessment, aggressive preventive measures and conservative restorations can dramatically reduce decay in community dental practices, according to a study by ...

Painless dental lasers can render teeth cavity-resistant

November 21, 2017
Almost as soon as lasers were invented in the 1960s, curious dentists wondered if these powerful forms of light could be used on teeth, though those early lasers were much too crude for any useful dental work.

Nanodiamonds show promise for aiding recovery from root canal

October 23, 2017
People who undergo root canals may soon have a tiny but powerful ally that could prevent infection after treatment.

Research shows aspirin could repair tooth decay

September 8, 2017
Researchers at Queen's University Belfast have discovered that aspirin could reverse the effects of tooth decay resulting in a reduction in the need for fillings. Currently about 7 million fillings are provided by the NHS ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.