A hot cup of tea or coffee during the working day is both refreshing and surprisingly good for oral health.
Getting a round of tea and coffee in at work could help to improve the oral health of your colleagues. A series of studies has shown that regular tea and coffee drinkers are less likely to suffer from gum disease and mouth cancer.
A study in the Journal of Periodontology1 looked at 940 Japanese men ages 49 to 59 and found that those who drank green tea regularly had healthier gums than those who drank less green tea. For every cup of green tea consumed per day, there was a decrease in three key indicators of gum disease.
It's not entirely clear why some teas help oral health, although it is thought that antioxidants found in tea may help reduce inflammation and inhibit the growth of harmful plaque, protecting teeth and gums. The black tea we use for the English cuppa also contains some fluoride, which is known to protect a tooth's enamel.
There are also benefits for coffee drinkers. According to another piece of research those who enjoy a regular coffee fix are over a third less likely to develop cancer of the mouth or throat than those who do not drink coffee.
The research found that people who drank less than five cups a day are less likely to be diagnosed with the illness, with their risk of throat and mouth cancer decreasing slightly with each cup they drank. Antioxidants are again thought to be one of the chemicals helping oral health.
It's not all good news for tea and coffee drinkers. Heavy drinkers may suffer more from stained teeth and bad breath. People who enjoy sugar in their hot drinks are also putting their teeth at increased risk of tooth decay.
Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter, says: "Each time sugar enters the mouth, it acts with the bacteria in plaque to form acid and teeth are under attack for an hour. Fizzy drinks and smoothies also put teeth at risk in the same way.
"We recommend that people avoid sugary drinks and where possible and have drinks which contain artificial sweeteners and no added sugar. We also recommend people chew sugar-free gum in between meals and snacks to help protect teeth throughout the working day."
The British Dental Health Foundation is hoping to promote a healthier workplace as part of its 36th annual campaign to improve the nation's oral health - National Smile Month - which runs from 20 May to 20 June 2012.
The campaign encourages everyone to brush their teeth for two minutes twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste; cut down on how often they have sugary foods and drinks; and to visit their dentist regularly, as often as they recommend.
1. Kushiyama et al. Relationship Between Intake of Green Tea and Periodontal Disease. Journal of Periodontology, 2009; 80 (3): 372 DOI: 10.1902/jop.2009.080510.