So, if one cup of tea is good for you, a gallon of tea must be great, right? Not exactly. When it comes to tea, the fluoride content can cause fluorosis in your toddler’s teeth and your bones when consumed in excessive amounts.
Dental fluorosis occurs when too much fluoride is exposed to developing teeth. This usually occurs between the ages of three months and eight years of age. Dental fluorosis can be as mild as white streaks in permanent teeth or as severe as brown, pitted, hard to clean teeth.
Skeletal fluorosis happens when too much fluoride is absorbed into the skeletal system causing pain in bones and joints, burning, prickling in the limbs, muscle weakness and chronic fatigue. In the final stages, bony spurs may also appear on the limb bones.
So, what does that have to do with tea? Some preliminary studies have shown a potential link between excessive tea drinking and fluorosis. Unlike other natural beverage substances, tea leaves have large amounts of naturally occurring fluoride. The worst culprits are instant teas and brick teas which are condensed blocks of tea that are ground into powder and used primarily for making tea without steeping. Since this preparation is concentrated, it can be easier to consume excessive amounts in a shorter period of time.
Not that tea isn’t good for you. Tea, particularly green tea, contains powerful antioxidants and is good for the immune system. Antioxidants can reduce inflammation and benefit your teeth, gums and overall health.
Don’t turn in your teaspoons just yet. In order to achieve fluorosis from tea consumption, you’d have to consume gallons of tea on a daily basis. Therefore, the occasional, even daily, two to three cups of hot tea or glasses of iced tea won’t negatively impact your dental and skeletal health. However, some iced tea consumers should be careful to not over-imbibe. Three supersized (32 to 48 ounce) ice teas from a fast food restaurant would put an adult-sized person over the limit for the day. Not to mention that these types of teas are often loaded with preservatives and sweeteners.
Like many things, tea can be beneficial to your health when consumed in moderation. If you are concerned about fluorosis, consult us today.