Is Tea Bad For Your Teeth?

I drink tea frequently, at least two to three cups a day. Usually black tea, but occasionally green.

Some googling reveals that some (unknown) black tea has a Ph value of 4.9, indicating acidity. I know acids are bad for teeth. So, how bad is tea for your teeth versus a control beverage of water, for example?

A simple Google search reveals several pages of speculative answers from morons as well as self-promotion from sellers of teeth whitening products. Hence I turn to the far more erudite teeming masses. (I tried a search here as well, but “tea” is too short to search for.)

I wouldn’t worry too much about the acidity as long as you rinse/brush/drink or eat something else soon afterwards. I’d think that you have a better chance of discoloring your teeth with lots of tea (or coffee, or coca-cola) or having any sugars you may put into the tea cause tooth decay.

Tea does contain large amounts of flouride. Some is good, but too much causes discolorations of teeth.

Look what it did to the British.


I just had this talk with my dentist. He advised against drinking commercial soda pop because of the high acidity. When I told him I never drank carbonated beverages, but did drink iced tea, he wasn’t concerned. Not enough acidity to worry about.

Note that toothpaste is mildly alkaline. To be safe, you might want to drink a soda after brushing your teeth. :smiley:

A dental hygenist once told me that nobody should drink anything but water. No soda, coffee, tea, fruit juice, alchohol, or anything except water. At my next visit she was gone. The dentist said he had to get rid of her, it was unreasonable to expect people to drink only water, and he didn’t think he had a single patient whose dental problems were primarily caused by drinking things other than water.

Well, 4.9 is pretty mild compared to the soda, energy drinks, flavored water, etc. that people drink constantly.

The main problem tends to be stains on the teeth, but that is really just cosmetic – advertising has convinced people that their teeth ought to be pearly white, but this has no actual effect on the functioning of teeth.

I drink about twice as much tea as the OP. I do get some staining, but it’s easily cleaned off at regular visits. Haven’t had a cavity for, oh, over 30 years now.

Really, compared to a lot of other things, drinking tea isn’t that bad. It’s more important that you brush and floss frequently than what, exactly, you drink.

Hugely witty. Well done sir, well done.

I doubt tea is actually bad per se for teeth as in causing cavity type of damage. I think the question is whether it cosmetically stains teeth. I think the crazy dentist is right - everything besides water stains the teeth to some degree. I think the key here is to quantify how much each agent stains the teeth. I mean, even fluoride is a double edged sword - it increases teeth health but can also cause staining in excess.

I just found out about ‘veneers’ and now I have to wonder - how many celebrities have really good teeth hygiene, and how many have yellow teeth and just use veneers.

Bleaching is a requirement now for celebrities. Nobody has teeth that white. Veneers, caps, dentures that overlay the teeth, as well as dentures to replace teeth have been used for a long time in show business. That’s just their teeth. Nose jobs, facelifts, breast implants, chin dimpling, and every other technique to ‘improve’ appearance is used. In Garson Kanin’s Hollywood (IIRC), he relates the story of an actress that went home with Clark Gable. When he removed his dentures and hairpiece she saw the heartthrob turn into a wizened old man.