Effect of an essential oil-containing antiseptic mouthrinse on plaque and salivary Streptococcus mutans levels

D. H. Fine, D. Furgang, M. L. Barnett, C. Drew, L. Steinberg, C. H. Charles, J. W. Vincent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


Background: Clinical studies in which antimicrobial mouthrinses were shown to have significant antiplaque activity most frequently have used gingivitis as the clinically relevant endpoint. However, there is evidence to suggest that mouthrinses containing active agents effective against Streptococcus mutans, such as chlorhexidine, may also have a rôle in inhibiting dental caries. This clinical study was conducted to determine the effect of 2X-daily rinsing with an essential oil-containing antiseptic mouthrinse (Listerine® Antiseptic) on levels of recoverable S. mutans and total streptococci in supragingival interproximal plaque and in saliva. Additionally, a follow-up in vitro study is reported which determined whether a differential susceptibility to the antiseptic mouthrinse exists among different strains of streptococci. Method: Following baseline saliva and plaque sampling for quantification of recoverable S. mutans and total streptococci, 29 qualifying subjects were randomly . assigned either the essential oil mouthrinse or a sterile water control. They rinsed with 20 ml for 30 s 2Xdaily for 11 days and once on the 12th day, in addition to their usual oral hygiene procedures. On day 12, saliva and plaque samples were again collected and microbiological quantification performed. The procedures were repeated with the alternate rinse after a 1-week washout period. Results: The essential oil mouthrinse produced respective reductions of 69.9% and 75.4% in total recoverable streptococci and in S. mutans in plaque, and corresponding reductions of 50.8% and 39.2% in saliva. The in vitro study revealed that streptococci from the mutans group were more susceptible to the bactericidal activity of the essential oil mouthrinse than streptococci from the mitis group. Conclusions: As antimicrobial mouthrinses are most frequently recommended to patients whose mechanical oral hygiene procedures are not adequate for the control of supragingival plaque and gingivitis, this study provides an additional rationale for the inclusion of the essential-oil mouthrinse as an adjunct to daily oral hygiene procedures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-161
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Clinical Periodontology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Periodontics


  • Antiseptic mouthrinse
  • Dental caries
  • Essential oils
  • Streptococcus mutans


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