Matcha May Help Fight Periodontitis, Study Finds

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Recent research suggests that matcha, a finely ground green tea powder, may help inhibit the growth of one of the primary bacterial culprits behind periodontitis. The study, published in the journal Microbiology Spectrum, found that those who used matcha mouthwash had notably lower levels of Porphyromonas gingivalis in their saliva compared to the study’s start.

According to researchers, periodontitis, a severe gum disease caused by bacterial infection, can lead to serious complications if left untreated, including tooth loss and associations with systemic conditions such as diabetes, preterm birth, cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer. P. gingivalis, a pathogen that thrives in the biofilms on tooth surfaces and proliferates in deep periodontal pockets, is known to be a significant contributor to the gum disease.

Matcha, used traditionally in Japanese tea ceremonies and as a flavoring agent in beverages and sweets, is made from the raw leaves of Camellia sinensis, a plant that has long been studied for its antimicrobial properties against various pathogens, including bacteria, fungi, and viruses, the authors explained. Previous research has shown that green tea extract, which is also derived from C. sinensis, can inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria such as Escherichia coli and P. gingivalis and reduce their adherence to oral cells. Observational studies have also linked green tea consumption with overall better health outcomes.

In the new study, researchers from the Nihon University School of Dentistry at Matsudo, the National Institute of Infectious Diseases in Tokyo, and other institutions conducted a series of in vitro experiments to evaluate the efficacy of a matcha solution against 16 oral bacterial species, including three strains of P. gingivalis. The matcha mouthwash showed minimal activity against beneficial oral bacteria, highlighting its specificity against pathogens.

The lab results were promising: within two hours, nearly all cultured P. gingivalis cells were killed by the matcha extract, and after four hours, all the cells were dead, indicating strong bactericidal activity.

Following these findings, the researchers conducted a clinical study with 45 patients diagnosed with chronic periodontitis at the Nihon University Hospital School of Dentistry at Matsudo. Participants were randomly divided into three groups: one received barley tea mouthwash, another received matcha extract mouthwash, and the third group received a mouthwash containing sodium azulene sulfonate hydrate, an anti-inflammatory agent. Saliva samples were collected before and after the intervention and analyzed using PCR. Participants were instructed to rinse twice daily.

The results showed a significant reduction in P. gingivalis levels in the saliva of patients using the matcha mouthwash, while the other two groups did not exhibit a similar reduction. According to the study’s authors, these findings indicate that matcha could be a valuable addition to preventive and therapeutic strategies against periodontitis, offering a natural and effective option for managing oral health.