Matcha: Nature’s Answer to Fighting Gum Disease

Woman Gargling With Mouthwash

Research indicates that matcha green tea powder can inhibit the growth of Porphyromonas gingivalis, a bacterium linked to periodontitis, suggesting its potential as a therapeutic tool for the disease. Clinical trials demonstrate that matcha mouthwash significantly lowers bacterial levels, reinforcing its effectiveness in dental care.

Clinical trials confirm matcha’s effectiveness in reducing Porphyromonas gingivalis levels in patients with periodontitis, highlighting its potential in dental treatments.

  • Periodontitis is linked to tooth loss and other health concerns.
  • Past studies suggest that green tea products can act against P. gingivalis, which causes periodontitis.
  • In a new study, researchers tested matcha extract, made from green tea, against the pathogen.
  • Lab studies suggest matcha inhibits the growth of the bacteria.
  • A clinical trial showed that matcha mouthwash inhibited P. gingivalis populations in saliva.

Understanding Periodontitis and its Bacterial Culprit

Periodontitis is an inflammatory gum disease caused by bacterial infections. If not treated, it can result in severe complications, such as tooth loss. Additionally, this disease has been linked to various health issues including diabetes mellitus, preterm birth, cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer. A primary bacterium responsible for periodontitis is Porphyromonas gingivalis. This bacterium colonizes biofilms on tooth surfaces and proliferates within the deep pockets of the gums.

Matcha’s Potential in Periodontal Disease Prevention

Matcha, a finely ground green tea powder, may help keep P. gingivalis at bay. This week in Microbiology Spectrum, an open-access ASM journal, researchers in Japan reported that matcha inhibited the growth of P. gingivalis in lab experiments. In addition, in a clinical study involving 45 people with periodontitis, people who used matcha mouthwash showed significantly lower levels of P. gingivalis in saliva samples than at the start of the study.

“Matcha may have clinical applicability for prevention and treatment of periodontitis,” the authors noted in the paper.

Broader Implications of Green Tea

Camellia sinensis is a green tea plant that has long been studied for its potential antimicrobial effects against bacteria, fungi, and viruses. A previous study on mice found that green tea extract can inhibit the growth of pathogens, including Escherichia coli. Other research has found that the extract can inhibit the growth of P. gingivalis and reduce its adherence to oral epithelial cells. In addition, observational studies have associated green tea consumption with better health.

Detailed Examination of Matcha’s Effects

Matcha, which is used in traditional ceremonies and for flavoring in beverages and sweets, is made from raw leaves of C. sinensis. For the new study, researchers from the Nihon University School of Dentistry at Matsudo, the National Institute of Infectious Disease in Tokyo, and other institutions carried out a series of in vitro experiments to test the efficacy of a matcha solution against 16 oral bacterial species, including 3 strains of P. gingivalis. The matcha mouthwash showed little activity against strains of commensal oral bacteria.

Within 2 hours, nearly all the cultured P. gingivalis cells had been killed by the matcha extract, and after 4 hours of exposure, all the cells were dead. Those findings suggested a bactericidal activity against the pathogen.

Clinical Study Insights

The researchers then recruited 45 people diagnosed with chronic periodontitis at the Nihon University Hospital School of Dentistry at Matsudo for a follow-up clinical study. The patients were randomly assigned to 3 groups: One group received barley tea mouthwash, the second received mouthwash made from matcha extract, and the third received mouthwash that included sodium azulene sulfonate hydrate, which is used to treat inflammation. Saliva samples were collected before and after the intervention and analyzed using PCR, and participants were instructed to rinse twice daily.

The analysis revealed that patients in the group that used matcha mouthwash showed a significant reduction in the level of P. gingivalis. Patients in the other 2 groups did not show that same significant reduction.

Conclusion and Future Directions

While the new study isn’t the first to probe the antimicrobial effects of tea-derived compounds on P. Gingivalis, the researchers note that it does support the potential benefits of matcha as part of a treatment plan for people with periodontal disease.

Reference: “Multimodal inhibitory effect of matcha on Porphyromonas gingivalis” by Ryoma Nakao, Ayami Takatsuka, Kengo Mandokoro, Naoki Narisawa, Tsuyoshi Ikeda, Hideki Takai and Yorimasa Ogata, 21 May 2024, Microbiology Spectrum.
DOI: 10.1128/spectrum.03426-23

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