The Effect of Honey on Human Tooth Enamel and Oral Bacteria

  • S. R. Grobler
  • N. J. Basson


Various fruit juices with relatively low pH values are known to have erosive effects on human tooth enamel in a reasonably short time (Grobler et al. 19891 Clin Prev Dent, 11:23–28; 12:5–8). Honey, however, with a relatively low pH, could do the same. The honey sample consisted mainly of nectar gathered from the blossoms of Eucalyptus trees. The honey used did not contain any artificial preservatives or dilutents, neither had it been heated by any artificial method. Sixteen human incisor crowns were ultimately ground wet using 1200-grade silicon carbide paper. Each surface was divided into five segments and each segment exposed to pure honey and diluted honey as well as to artificial honey for different periods of time. The enamel segments were then investigated for their hardness as well as for any etch pattern, by scanning electron microscopy. Scanning electron microscopy showed no erosion of enamel by natural honey over a period of thirty minutes neither did Knoop microhardness tests show any deterioration of the enamel structure even in a 4 times diluted honey solution. However, the theoretical solubility and ion product values can be linked to the results obtained by the SEM study for the undiluted as well as for the four times diluted artificial honey sample. The absence of any effect by pure honey could only be partially attributed to the normal building blocks of enamel, namely calcium, phosphorus and fluoride levels.

Seven different oral Streptococcus species, a Candida albicans strain and a Staphylococcus aureus strain were tested for antibacterial sensitivity towards the honey. Minimal inhibitory concentrations (MIC) were determined with a broth dilution method. The MIC was the lowest concentration of the honey which yielded no growth.

The oral streptococci as well as the C. albicans strain were relatively resistant to Bluegum honey. However, the two species Streptococcus anginosus and Streptococcus oralis were inhibited at 17% and 12% respectively.


Minimal Inhibitory Concentration Honey Sample Oral Bacterium Honey Solution Human Tooth Enamel 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. R. Grobler
    • 1
  • N. J. Basson
    • 1
  1. 1.Oral and Dental Research Institute Faculty of DentistryUniversity of StellenboschTygerbergSouth Africa

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