Nancy Dell: Probiotics to reduce gum disease; Matcha tea vs. green tea

1. I have gum disease. Can any food or supplement help? 
Tom, Agawam

The CDC says nearly half of Americans over age 30 have some form of gum disease and about 70 percent of adults over age 65 have it.

Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, is inflammation around the teeth that can result in pockets between the teeth and gums. It is caused by bacteria and is the leading cause of tooth loss. Healthy bacteria, also called probiotics, can reduce your risk and reverse gum disease, especially when it is moderate to severe.

Researchers in Turkey had 30 people with gum disease dissolve a probiotic or a placebo lozenge in their mouth twice a day for 12 weeks. All patients saw some improvement but the probiotic group had significantly greater reduction in the depth of the pockets around the affected teeth and a significant gain in the tooth attachment.The probiotic group also had a significant reduction in the type of bacteria that is keystone in causing gum disease.

The specific probiotics used in the study are called Lactobacillus reuteri DSM17938 and ATCC PTA5289 and are sold as Gum PerioBalance in the US.

2. What is Matcha tea? I hear it is better than green tea. 
Julia, Westfield

Matcha is a fine powder made from the green tea leaf. It is usually mixed with water making a thick tea

Because you actually consume the whole leaf, you get 30 to 100 percent more of the beneficial ingredient known by the initials EGCG. Some studies show this compound can help you lose weight and reduce the risk of some cancers, heart disease and diabetes.

However, ConsumerLab.com found that Matcha tea, even organic, contains 30 times more lead than found in green tea. So limit Matcha tea to 1 cup a day. Pregnant women and children should avoid Matcha tea altogether.

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