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Asian Pac J Trop Med. 2011 Oct;4(10):814-8. doi: 10.1016/S1995-7645(11)60200-9.

Anticariogenic potentials of clove, tobacco and bitter kola.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Nigeria, Nsukka 410001, Enugu State, Nigeria.



To investigate three tropical plant materials - clove seeds [Syzygium aromaticum (S. aromaticum)], bitter kola fruits [Garcinia kola (G. kola)] and tobacco leaves (Nicotiana species) as potential targeted killers of Streptococcus mutans (S. mutans), a cavity-causing bacterium (gram-positive, facultative anaerobe) that resides in a multispecies microbial community (dental plaque) for the treatment of dental caries (tooth decay).


Thirty one (31) teeth samples were collected from patients with obvious signs of tooth decay (swollen gum, weak or fallen tooth, etc.) using sterile swab sticks. These samples were collected from two major dental clinics in Nsukka, Enugu State, Nigeria and investigated by spread inoculation onto sterile blood agar and Mueller Hinton agar (MHA) respectively and incubated at 37 °C for 24 h. The discrete colonies obtained were further re-inoculated onto sterile Mitis salivarius agar (MSA) plates and incubated as above. The isolates were characterized by gram staining and catalase test. Tobacco leaves, clove seeds and bitter kola fruits were ground into powder, extracted with three different solvents (n-hexane, hot water and ethanol), filtered, dried and stored in clean containers, corked and kept until used. The plant extracts were investigated for phytochemistry, minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC), minimum cidal concentration (MCC) and compared with some conventional antibiotics commonly used against tooth decay. Antibiotic sensitivity test was also carried out. The results were statistically analyzed.


The extracts showed varied phytochemical composition but most abundantly the flavonoids. Our result also shows that females (16) have more tooth decay than males (15) and that 16 samples were very bloody while 15 were slightly bloody. The microbial characterization showed that 18 samples were catalase-positive indicating the presence of S. mutans while 13 were catalase-negative suspected to be Staphylococcus spp. The Gram reaction confirmed 13 Gram-negative and 18 Gram-positive organisms. The n-hexane extract had the best antimicrobial activity followed by the ethanol and lastly hot water. MIC showed that n-hexane clove extract had the largest inhibition zone diameter, followed by bitter kola extract and lastly tobacco extract. The antibiotic sensitivity test credited ciprofloxacin the best because it exhibited broad spectrum of action.


Since the n-hexane extract of clove seeds demonstrated preferential growth-inhibitory activity against the causal cariogenic pathogens (S. mutans) in dental caries, we therefore, report here that clove extract be henceforth considered as a potential ingredient in toothpaste preparation.

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