Melaleuca alternifolia and its application against dental plaque and periodontal diseases: A systematic review

Phytother Res. 2018 Feb;32(2):230-242. doi: 10.1002/ptr.5974. Epub 2017 Dec 12.


This is a systematic review of clinical and laboratory studies evaluating the effect of Melaleuca alternifolia on periodontopathogens, dental plaque, gingivitis, periodontitis, and inflammatory responses. The PubMed, Cochrane, Web of science, Bireme, Lilacs, Prospero, Open Grey, and Clinical Trials databases were searched to identify potentially eligible studies through October 2016. Of 1,654 potentially eligible studies, 25 were included in the systematic review. Their methodology was evaluated through the Cochrane Handbook for clinical studies and the GRADE system for in vivo/in vitro studies. Although clinical studies must be interpreted with caution due to methodological limitations, laboratory studies have found promising results. In vitro evidences showed that M. alternifolia has bactericidal and bacteriostatic effects against the most prevalent periodontopathogens. Clinical studies found comparable effects to chlorhexidine 0.12% in reducing gingival inflammation, although the antiplaque effect was lower. M. alternifolia also showed antioxidant properties, which are beneficial to the host, allied to the reduction on immune-inflammatory responses to pathogens. This systematic review suggests that the M. alternifolia has potential anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, which can be easily applied to the periodontal tissues. However, further clinical trials are needed to elucidate the clinical relevance of its application.

Keywords: chlorhexidine; melaleuca; periodontal diseases; tea tree oil.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Dental Plaque / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Melaleuca / chemistry*
  • Periodontal Diseases / drug therapy*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents