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The essential oils in LISTERINE® have a range of antimicrobial activities 
• Non-specific mechanism of action, killing bacteria by disruption of cell walls1
• Broad antimicrobial effects (aerobes, anaerobes, Gram-negative and Gram-positive organisms and yeasts)1–4
• Reduces bacterial endotoxins and plaque pathogenicity5,6
• Penetrates plaque biofilm7,8
• Antibacterial activity (slowing re-colonisation) continues after rinsing2,4,9
• No shift in oral microbial flora that might favour growth of opportunistic species10

Such a mode of action delivers a broad spectrum of antimicrobial kill, across Gram-positive and -negative bacteria.

Spectrum of kill of LISTERINE® 11

Gram-positive organisms

Gram-negative organisms

Actinomyces naeslundii
Actinomyces viscosus
Staphylococcus aureus
Streptococcus mutans
Streptococcus sanguis
Lactobacillus acidophilus
Streptococcus faecalis
Streptococcus pyogenes
Streptococcus gordonii

Porphyromonas gingivalis
Prevotella intermedia
Bacteroides loescheii
Eikenella corrodens
Fusobacterium nucleatum
Klebsiella pneumoniae
Leptotrichia buccalis
Pseudomonas aeruginosa



  1. Kubert D et al. Antiseptic mouthrinse-induced microbial cell surface alterations. Am J Dent 1993; 6: 277–279.
  2. Pitts G et al. Mechanism of action of an antiseptic, anti-odor mouthwash. J Dent Res 1983; 62: 738–742.
  3. Ross NM et al. Long-term effects of LISTERINE antiseptic on dental plaque and gingivitis. J Clin Dent 1989; 1: 92–95.
  4. DePaola LG et al. Effect of an antiseptic mouthrinse on salivary microbiota. Am J Dent 1996; 9: 93–95.
  5. Fine DH et al. Effects of sublethal exposure to an antiseptic mouthrinse on representative plaque bacteria. J Clin Periodont 1996; 23: 444–451.
  6. Fine DH et al. The effect of rinsing with LISTERINE antiseptic on the properties of developing dental plaque. J Clin Periodont1985; 12: 660–666.
  7. Pan P et al. Determination of the in situ bactericidal activity of an essential oil mouthrinse using a vital stain method. J Clin Periodont 2000; 27: 256–261.
  8. Fine DH et al. Comparative antimicrobial activities of antiseptic mouthrinses against isogenic planktonic and biofilm forms of Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans. J Clin Periodont 2001; 28: 697–700.
  9. Jenkins S et al. The magnitude and duration of the effects of some mouthrinse products on salivary bacterial counts. J Clin Periodont 1994; 21: 397–401.
  10. Minah GE et al. Effects of 6 months use of an antiseptic mouth rinse on supragingival dental plaque microflora. J Clin Periodont 1989; 16: 347–352.
  11. Data on file A, McNEIL-PPC, Inc.