You Can Fight Dental Plagues with This Native Plant from Indonesia!

Have you ever had any dental plague issues? Dental plague is a yellowish layer of biofilm that is formed due to the abundance of bacteria surrounding our teeth. When its accumulation is left uncontrolled, dental plague may lead to a cavity or various gum diseases such as gingivitis (mild complication) and periodontis (gum decay). Worry not, a native Indonesian plant that has the power to eradicate dental plagues has been identified: Temu Kunci!

temu kunci cartoon
Temu kunci cartoon

Little did we know, the root of this plant, which is typically used as a seasoning for boiled spinach, is also beneficial in maintaining our oral hygiene. Also known as finger root or Chinese ginger, this local plant from West Java contains the antibacterial compound panduratin A that has the power to prevent plague formation.

This was discovered in a research project led by Yanti, Ph.D. from the Faculty of Biotechnology, Atma Jaya Catholic University of Indonesia, along with a team of researchers from Bogor Agricultural Institute and Yonsei University, Korea. They observed that current teeth cleaning practice by dentist has a downside, in which your teeth might become more and more fragile and sensitive. Based on their initiatives to find an alternative way to maintain dental and oral hygiene, Temu Kunci was shed under the spotlight. Not only it is safe to consume and abundantly available, it is also relatively cheap enough to create a reasonably priced product in the future.

temu kunci
Temu kunci plant. Source: Can Stock Photo

Temu Kunci’s potential lies in its ability to combat plague-forming biofilm. This activity is even more powerful compared to that found in chlorohexidine gluconate, a substance generally used in mouth wash. As it can also prevent bacterial growth, Temu Kunci may prevent gingivitis effectively. Considering all those positive aspects, Yanti and her team looked further into the potential application of Temu Kunci and its panduratin A content, including the possibility to incoporate the plant extract in dental gum.

However, this infamous plant associated with the West Javanese legend “Dayang Sumbi” has yet been commonly cultivated in Indonesia. Unlike temulawak, another popular medicinal plant in Indonesia, the composition of active substances in this plant has not been standarized by the government. As citizens of a nation with such rich diversity of herbal plants, let’s increase our awareness and love for local natural products!

Craving for more details?
Listen to our interview with Yanti, Ph.D. here!

Or read her publication here 


This article was written by Daniesa Putri Widodo, Odelia Levana, Romanos Albert Adhitya I., and Stevany Tiurma Br Sormin as a project in the Science Communication course. They are students of the Biology Program, Faculty of Biotechnology, Atma Jaya Catholic University of Indonesia. Yanti, Ph.D. is wearing a white shirt in this picture.

Editor: Watumesa Tan

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