Antimicrobial activity of commercially available essential oils against Streptococcus mutans

J Contemp Dent Pract. 2012 Jan 1;13(1):71-4. doi: 10.5005/jp-journals-10024-1098.


Introduction: Many essential oils have been advocated for use in complementary medicine for bacterial and fungal infections. However, few of the many claims of therapeutic efficacy have been validated adequately by either in vitro testing or in vivo clinical trials.

Objective: To study the antibacterial activity of nine commercially available essential oils against Streptococcus mutans in vitro and to compare the antibacterial activity between each material.

Methodology: Nine pure essential oils; wintergreen oil, lime oil, cinnamon oil, spearmint oil, peppermint oil, lemongrass oil, cedarwood oil, clove oil and eucalyptus oil were selected for the study. Streptococcus mutans was inoculated at 37ºC and seeded on blood agar medium. Agar well diffusion assay was used to measure antibacterial activity. Zone of inhibition was measured around the filter paper in millimeters with vernier caliper.

Results: Cinnamon oil showed highest activity against Streptococcus mutans followed by lemongrass oil and cedarwood oil. Wintergreen oil, lime oil, peppermint oil and spearmint oil showed no antibacterial activity.

Conclusion: Cinnamon oil, lemongrass oil, cedarwood oil, clove oil and eucalyptus oil exhibit antibacterial property against S. mutans.

Clinical significance: The use of these essential oils against S. mutans can be a viable alternative to other antibacterial agents as these are an effective module used in the control of both bacteria and yeasts responsible for oral infections.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Bacteriological Techniques
  • Betula
  • Cinnamomum zeylanicum
  • Citrus aurantiifolia
  • Clove Oil / pharmacology
  • Cupressaceae
  • Cymbopogon
  • Eucalyptus
  • Eucalyptus Oil
  • Gaultheria
  • Humans
  • Materials Testing
  • Mentha piperita
  • Mentha spicata
  • Monoterpenes / pharmacology
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology
  • Salicylates / pharmacology
  • Streptococcus mutans / drug effects*
  • Syzygium
  • Terpenes / pharmacology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Clove Oil
  • Eucalyptus terpene oil
  • Monoterpenes
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Extracts
  • Plant Oils
  • Salicylates
  • Terpenes
  • Eucalyptus Oil
  • lemongrass oil
  • wintergreen oil
  • cedarwood oil
  • peppermint oil