Green Tea Polyphenols – A New Treatment for Tooth Sensitivity?

August 21, 2017
Sarah Handzel, BSN, RN

Tooth sensitivity is a common complaint amongst patients, and while there are plenty of products on the market, not every patient is able to find a successful solution. Certain compounds found in green tea leaves not only provides a new treatment option, but a more natural one for patients who prefer a more organic approach. Continue below to find out more.

Polyphenols are the natural plant compounds found in green tea plants.

According to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 30 percent of adults in the U.S. have problems with tooth sensitivity.

The results from a new study offer hope for finding effective treatment for sensitive teeth. The study involved the use of green tea polyphenols, or certain compounds found in green tea plants, to help make up a new type of biomaterial which may help eliminate tooth sensitivity while also protecting teeth from harmful cavity-causing bacteria.

As dentists already know, there are many existing options for tackling this common dental issue, including desensitizing toothpastes and fluoride gel. However, some patients still don’t find relief, even with these treatment options.

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In the majority of cases, tooth sensitivity occurs as a result of the wearing away of the protective enamel layer on the surface of teeth and resulting exposure of the dentin, which contains many tiny, empty microtubes. When the ends of these microtubes are open and exposed to the oral environment, hot or cold liquids, or other sensitivity-causing agents, can pass directly from the mouth to the nerve of the tooth. As patients will tell you, this can be a significant source of pain.

Currently, treatments for tooth sensitivity involve the occlusion of the dentin microtubes. But blocking these tubes can make teeth more susceptible to erosion, weakness and abrasion. Harmful bacteria, like Streptococcus mutans, produce a biofilm that sticks to the porous dentin surface, causing dental caries.

In the new study, researchers set out to create a different type of treatment. Using a special green tea compound, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (ECGC), combined with the traditional material nanohydroxyapatite, they developed a new type of biomaterial capable of both sealing off exposed dentin and fighting harmful bacteria. In previous studies, ECGC was shown to combat S. mutans.

The new nanohydroxyapatite-ECGC mixture was enclosed within special silica nanoparticles. Then, the research team performed a series of tests to determine the new biomaterial’s ability to inhibit the formation of any biofilms by S. mutans. It was found that the new treatment was successful in blocking both the dentin microtubes and any biofilm formation, and it was resistant to abrasion and erosion. Further, EGCG was released from the new material for more than 96 hours.

“The development of [this new biomaterial] bridges the gap between multifunctional concept and dental clinical practice and is promising in providing dentists a therapeutic strategy for the management of the dentin surface to counter dentin hypersensitivity and caries,” the authors of this study wrote.

Further development of this new biomaterial could prove to be an effective therapeutic treatment option for people suffering from tooth sensitivity.

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