The minimum inhibitory concentrations (MIC) of commercially available and 70% aqueous propanone (P70) extracts from plants chosen for polyphenol content on Streptococcus mutans and other bacteria were determined using a standard susceptibility agar dilution technique to investigate their potential use as anticariogenic agents. The effects on adhesion of S. mutans to glass were also studied. The lowest MICs were for the P70 extracts of red grape skin (0.5 mg ml–1) and green tea and sloe berry skin (2 mg ml–1). The commercial extracts generally had a lower activity with a minimum MIC of 2 mg ml–1 for tea extracts, grape seed extracts and Pynogenol® (extract of maritime pine). All other extracts had MICs of ≧4 mg ml–1. Unfermented cocoa had greater antimicrobial activity than fermented cocoa and the activity of the fractionated extract increased with the extent of epicatechin polymerization. Epicatechin polymer had an MIC of 1 mg ml–1 and an MBC of 64 mg ml–1. Selected extracts were tested against other oral bacteria and showed activity against Gram-positive organisms. P70 extracts of unfermented cocoa, epicatechin polymer fraction, green tea and red grape seed were bacteriostatic and prevented acid production when added at the MIC to cultures of S. mutans grown in a chemically defined medium supplemented with either glucose or sucrose. There was a reduction in viability which was greater when added to washed cells, but there were some viable cells after 24 h. The extracts also reduced adherence of S. mutans to glass.
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