Dentifrices containing new agents for the control of plaque and gingivitis: microbiological aspects

Phillip Marsh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Citations (Scopus)


Abstract. Antimicrobial agents have been proposed as playing an important role in controlling plaque and gingivitis. Unfortunately, a large number of potential compounds are unsuitable for use in dentifrices because they lack “substantivity”, produce undesirable side‐effects, or are incompatible with toothpaste ingredients. New agents that have been successfully incorporated into dentifrices include plant extracts, phenolic compounds and metal salts. Several products are currently being based on the phenol, Triclosan. Triclosan has a broad spectrum of antimicrobial activity against yeasts and oral bacteria. To enhance its clinical efficacy, Triclosan has been combined either with a co‐polymer or with another compatible antimicrobial agent, zinc citrate. The co‐polymer acts to increase the oral retention of Triclosan, and has resulted in further reductions in salivary bacterial counts in vivo. Zinc salts also have antimicrobial activity, and at low concentrations, can inhibit glycolysis and bacterial proteases. In mixed culture chemos‐tat studies, Triclosan selectively inhibited Gram‐negative periodontopathic bacteria; additive effects were obtained when zinc citrate and Triclosan were combined. In an experimental human gingivitis study, a zinc citrate/Triclosan dentifrice reduced plaque accumulation and gingivitis compared to a placebo paste; the ratio of anaerobic/aerobic bacteria and the proportions of Actinomyces species in plaque were also reduced. The prolonged use of a zinc citrate/Triclosan dentifrice neither significantly altered the ecology of supragingival plaque nor led to the selection of Triclosan‐resistant bacteria. The data suggest that dentifrices containing new antimicrobial agents could be of clinical relevance in the prevention and control of plaque and gingivitis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)462-467
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Periodontology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1991


  • antimicrobial agents
  • dentifrice
  • gingivitis
  • metal salts
  • periodontopathogens
  • plant extracts
  • plaque
  • Triclosan
  • zinc citrate


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