An extract of oolong tea (semifermented tea leaves of Camellia sinensis) and its chromatographically isolated polyphenolic compound was examined for in vitro inhibitory effects on glucosyltransferases (GTases) of mutans streptococci and on caries development in Sprague-Dawley rats infected with mutans streptococci. The samples showed no detectable effect on the growth of mutans streptococci. However, insoluble glucan synthesis from sucrose by the GTases of Streptococcus mutans MT8148R and Streptococcus sobrinus 6715 was markedly inhibited, as was sucrose-dependent cell adherence of these mutans streptococci. The administration of the oolong tea extract and the isolated polyphenol compound into diet 2000 and drinking water resulted in significant reductions in caries development and plaque accumulation in the rats infected with mutans streptococci. The active components in the oolong tea extract were presumptively identified as polymeric polyphenols which were specific for oolong tea leaves. These results indicate that the oolong tea polyphenolic compounds could be useful for controlling dental caries.

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