The interest in alternative medicines, especially those from natural extracts, has increased in recent decades. Melaleuca alternifolia is a shrub belonging to the genus Melaleuca, popularly known as "tea tree", the main product of which is its essential oil (TTO - tea tree oil), of great medicinal importance for its proven bactericidal and antifungal activity against several human pathogens. By virtue of its therapeutic activity in various medical specialties, TTO is now used in dentistry. This literature review was conducted in order to discuss the tests already carried out with TTO against microorganisms related to dental caries, periodontal disease and pulpal problems. Melaleuca oil has shown good in vitro antibacterial activity against oral microorganisms; however, research involving the study of its mechanism of action on the microbial cells or in vivo studies are still scarce and need to be done since this product may be useful in dentistry, either in the chemical maintenance of hygiene or in the prevention of oral diseases.
Melaleuca alternifolia; tea tree oil; antimicrobial agents; dentistry