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Sir, it is nice to know that dental decay in children's teeth is decreasing in the UK as reported recently in the BDJ’s news pages (BDJ 2004, 197:64) In developing countries, (more often in the rural areas) there is higher prevalence of dental and periodontal disease due to negligence and lack of awareness and the cost of oral health care has increased in these countries. Essential oil (EO) mouthwashes are important in oral health management1. They contain thymol, eucalyptus oil and menthol and the tepenes present have antibacterial and antifungal activity2,3. They have broad antimicrobial effects, are microbiologically safe 3,4 and have the ability to penetrate the plaque biofilm killing the microorganisms5. The curry leaf tree (Murraya Koenigii spreng – a green leafy vegetable) is grown all over India and other countries for its aromatic leaves which are used daily as an ingredient in Indian cuisine. The fresh curry leaves contain 2.6% volatile essential oils (containing sesquiterpenes and monoterpenes)6 and the essential oils in the curry leaves are sufficiently soluble in water. They contain 21000µg total carotene, 7100µg beta carotene, 93.9µg total folic acid, 0.21mg riboflavin, 0.93mg iron, 830mg calcium, 57mg phosphorus and 0.20mg zinc per 100g7. The cold extract of curry leaves (10g of cut fresh curry leaves in 200ml of distilled water) has a pH of 6.3 to 6.4. (unpublished personal observations). Chlorophyll has been proposed as an anticariogenic agent and it also helps to reduce halitosis8. We have observed that holding curry leaves in the mouth for 5 to 7 minutes is helpful in reducing halitosis9 and that the terpenes have been found to reduce airborne...
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