Effect of the Thymus vulgaris essential oil on the growth of Streptococcus mutans
The traditional Mediterranean herb thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is a source of an essential oil that has been shown to possess antimicrobial activity against many microorganisms. A considerable part of the general population has dental caries and Streptococcus mutans is one of the microorganisms responsible. The aim of this study was to assess the effect of the essential oil extracted from thyme on the growth of S. mutans, the main bacterium involved in the etiology of dental caries, as well as to incorporate this oil into a toothpaste formulation for preliminary assessment. The broth dilution technique was used in threefold tests for antibacterial activity. The concentrations tested were 1%, 5% and 10% essential oil diluted in ethanol or mineral oil. The controls were triclosan at 0.25% and 0.5%, chlorhexidine digluconate at 0.06% and 0.12%, and ethanol. The 1% solution of thyme essential oil in ethanol proved to be the most efficient against Streptococcus mutans and may be considered viable as an ingredient of toothpaste, both with regard to cost and to the sensory profile of the product. Also, analyses of the characteristics of the formulation indicated that the product is stable.