Some scientists have investigated the effect that oregano extract has on the Streptococcus mutans bacterium, associated with the onset and development of dental caries.
The study derives from a research project directed by Dr. Alba Edith Vega of the National University of San Luis in Argentina, called “Molecular and immunological metabolic studies of microorganisms of clinical and environmental interest.”
The analyzes confirm the inhibitory effect of oregano on this bacterium that causes cavities and provide enlightening data. The ultimate goal is to create a mouthwash with a concentration of oregano that achieves inhibition.
The research has been in development for more than a year. The results obtained are promising and, on a laboratory scale, it can be affirmed that oregano helps prevent cavities.
Through the central research project, strategies are sought to carry out the control and prevention of various pathogens. Infectious diseases are the highest percentage of all world pathologies and, in turn, the scientific community faces a great problem that is the antimicrobial resistance presented by different microorganisms.
That is where research is carried out and strategies are sought to control and inhibit the growth of bacteria, preferably through compounds that can be of natural origin, mainly with native plants of the region. “Natural compounds potentially have antimicrobial, anticancer, and antioxidant activity,” Vega explained to Argentina Investiga.
Two of the authors of the study. (Photo: UNSL Institutional Press)
The inhibitory effect produced by oregano on the bacteria that causes dental caries began to be suspected as a result of a previous study that had been carried out with oregano but on another bacterium called Helicobacter pylori, associated with gastrointestinal diseases.
Since it had inhibitory effects and acted on different virulence factors, the experts wondered what other pathogen of chemical interest could be addressed in this study. This is how Dr. Andrea Celeste Arismendi Sosa proposed doing it with Streptococcus mutans, which causes cavities and affects people’s health. Over time, this research became the subject of the thesis of student María Alejandra Bertello, together with her director, Dr. Vega, and her co-director, Dr. Arismendi Sosa.
The scientists carry out their studies on dental samples previously treated and cleaned of caries. What is being studied is the inhibition of biofilm formation, three-dimensional structures created by bacteria living in community, and their consequent detachment.
Regarding what type of oregano is studied, in this case oregano is used as it is sold in stores. “The idea was to use an oregano that people consume (…) This product was scientifically identified as oregano to avoid mixing the compounds that one buys,” the researchers explained.
For the tests, a liquid extract of a concentration of ten grams of oregano is prepared with boiled water and left to settle for twenty minutes. Later, this liquid is filtered to be able to work it under sterile conditions. The next step is a chemical transformation: it goes from liquid to solid. This is how it is possible to reach an oregano extract powder with which the studies are carried out.
“Tests are carried out, the minimum inhibitory concentration is determined, and then, once that concentration is established, it is what one works with to be able to carry out these tests, for example, biofilm inhibition,” explained Arismendi Sosa.
It should be noted that these studies are preliminary and are not performed with patients. This is a first stage, in which the inhibitory process of the biofilm of bacteria that cause dental caries and, consequently, bad breath, is fine-tuned. “We work with clean dental samples and we put them in contact with the microorganism, thus forming the biofilm on the tooth. We could not work with decayed teeth because later there will be no repair since the damage to the tooth has already been caused”, they expressed.
On a commercial level, there is no mouthwash or toothpaste that has in its composition any derivative of oregano. This would be an unprecedented product for the market. “More than a year ago we began to investigate this topic on time; We already have the minimum inhibitory concentration, and we have the test on the teeth and so far we see that the inhibition of the biofilm does work in a preventive way and its detachment (…) We are in the stage of testing this formulation of the rinse”, concluded Bertello. (Source: Fabiola Gisel Aranda / National University of San Luis / Argentina Investiga)