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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Determination of the in situ bactericidal activity of an essential oil mouthrinse using a vital stain method.

BACKGROUND: Recent research has indicated that bacteria within a biofilm may undergo changes in susceptibility to antimicrobial agents when compared to planktonic forms. This study was conducted to determine the bactericidal effect of an essential oil-containing mouthrinse (Listerine Antiseptic) on dental plaque bacteria in situ. METHODS: 1-day-old plaque in 17 subjects was sampled at baseline from the buccal surfaces of diagonally contralateral maxillary and mandibular bicuspids and 1st molars. Subjects were then randomly assigned either an essential oil mouthrinse or a sterile saline negative control and rinsed under supervision with 20 ml for 30 s. 30 min later, plaque was sampled from the remaining contralateral posterior teeth. Subjects repeated these procedures with their respective alternate rinse after 1 week. Pooled plaque samples from each subject at each sampling period were stained with a commercially-available fluorescent stain which fluoresces live and dead bacteria green and red, respectively. The stained plaque specimens were analyzed using computerized image analysis. A separate in vitro study was conducted to determine the relationship between the % red stain per sample and bacterial viability. RESULTS: Analysis of vital stained plaque specimens indicated that following rinsing with the essential oil mouthrinse, 78.7% of bacteria were dead compared to 27.9% following rinsing with the negative control (p<0.001). The in vitro findings demonstrated that the % red stain per sample is reflective of actual bacterial kill. CONCLUSIONS: This study confirms the findings of previous in vitro and in vivo studies which demonstrated the essential oil mouthrinse to have significant biocidal activity against oral micro-organisms. These studies all support the primacy of a bactericidal mechanism in producing the plaque and gingivitis reductions observed in numerous clinical trials conducted on the essential oil mouthrinse.[1]


  1. Determination of the in situ bactericidal activity of an essential oil mouthrinse using a vital stain method. Pan, P., Barnett, M.L., Coelho, J., Brogdon, C., Finnegan, M.B. Journal of clinical periodontology. (2000) [Pubmed]
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