Using Natural Cinnamon Compound to Battle Tooth Decay Bacteria

Jim Crocker
15th January, 2024

Using Natural Cinnamon Compound to Battle Tooth Decay Bacteria

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Picture this: inside your mouth lives a tiny troublemaker named Streptococcus mutans, or simply S. mutans. This bacterium loves to throw parties in the acidic environments of our mouths, especially after a delicious sugary meal. Unfortunately for us, the result of these parties isn't just a good time for the bacteria—it's tooth decay, or what you might commonly call cavities. The more acid these bacteria produce, the more they can undermine the hard structure of our teeth, leading to those unwanted visits to the dentist. But what if I told you that something as commonplace as cinnamon could help fight off this microscopic nuisance? Scientists have turned their attention to trans-cinnamaldehyde (TC), a compound found in cinnamon, which has shown promising powers in battling not just one type of bacteria but both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. These researchers, from the Department of Prosthodontics at Hadassah Medical Center at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, have been particularly intrigued by the potential of TC to take down S. mutans, not just in its free-floating "planktonic" form but also when it settles into a more resilient structure called a biofilm. You’ve probably heard of plaque, right? Well, that's a type of biofilm, and it's a major dental concern because bacteria in biofilms are like outlaws holed up in a fortress—they're much harder to get rid of than when they're roaming free. TC's challenge was to show it could effectively storm the fortress. To test whether TC was up for the task, the scientists mixed up different potions, with concentrations ranging from 156.25 to 5000 μg/mL, using an organic solvent called dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) to dissolve the TC. They were looking for the right 'dose' of TC that could get the job done. In this microscopic showdown, they monitored TC's effects against the S. mutans both swimming freely and those shielded within biofilms. For the planktonic S. mutans, the researchers determined that a rather hefty dose of 2500 μg/mL was needed to show significant antibacterial activity. This number is called the minimal bactericidal concentration (MBC), which is the lowest concentration of an agent needed to ensure the bacteria doesn’t wake up after the treatment. And, before you wonder, they made sure that DMSO itself wasn't doing any of the heavy lifting; it turned out to have no antibacterial effect by itself. But what about those S. mutans hunkered down in their biofilm bunkers? Here, the TC showed even more promise. With a concentration of 625 μg/mL and above, it began to show its antibiofilm prowess. Hydroxyapatite discs, which mimic the surface of teeth, were used as the battleground, and the scientists deployed spinning-disk confocal microscopy (SDCM) along with high-resolution scanning electron microscopy (HR-SEM) to see the outcomes. These sophisticated imaging techniques were like using satellite imagery to confirm the destruction of enemy targets. What they saw through these high-tech microscopes was promising: the TC was indeed breaking through the biofilms. Their findings showed that the compound could disrupt S. mutans' biofilm party, leaving fewer bacteria to cause problems for our teeth. And, while 2500 μg/mL was necessary to knock out the planktonic bacteria, a lower dose—625 μg/mL—started to show results against the biofilms. So, can a sprinkle of cinnamon keep the dentist away? It's not as simple as that. Remember, even though TC is found in cinnamon, we're talking about a specific compound at concentrations much higher than you’d get from your spice rack. But, it does offer a tantalizing glimpse into how nature can provide us with new weapons against old foes like S. mutans. In the grand scheme of dental health, the research proposes trans-cinnamaldehyde as a noteworthy ally in the ongoing battle against tooth decay. By revealing the compound's ability to tackle both free-floating and fortress-dwelling bacteria, researchers have laid the groundwork for new preventive treatments that might one day find their way into your toothpaste or mouthwash. Perhaps one day, in addition to brushing and flossing, we'll be talking about 'cinnamoning' our way to better oral health. Isn’t science sweet?



Main Study

1) Trans-Cinnamaldehyde-Fighting Streptococcus mutans Using Nature.

Published 15th January, 2024

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