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Clin Oral Investig. 2014 May;18(4):1103-9. doi: 10.1007/s00784-013-1097-x. Epub 2013 Sep 10.

Antimicrobial penetration in a dual-species oral biofilm after noncontact brushing: an in vitro study.

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  • 1Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Groningen and University Medical Center Groningen, Antonius Deusinglaan 1, 9713 AV, Groningen, The Netherlands.



Oral biofilm is inevitably left behind, even after powered brushing. As a special feature, powered brushing removes biofilm in a noncontact mode. When the brushing distance becomes too large, biofilm is left behind. We hypothesize that biofilm left behind after brushing has different viscoelastic properties than before brushing, impacting antimicrobial penetration.


In vitro grown dual-species biofilms were subjected to 20 % mechanical deformation before and after powered brushing at 4-mm brushing distance. Biofilm thickness and stress relaxation were measured for unbrushed and brushed biofilms. Stress relaxation was analyzed with a three-element Maxwell model. Antimicrobial penetration from five mouthrinses was microscopically evaluated for unbrushed and brushed biofilms.


Thicknesses of unbrushed and brushed biofilms were similar. Brushing decreased the prevalence of fast and increased the prevalence of slow relaxation elements, which was accompanied by deeper penetration of chlorhexidine and cetylpyridinium chloride. Penetration of antimicrobials from other mouthrinses was relatively low in unbrushed and brushed biofilms.


This confirmation of our hypothesis points to an additional advantage of powered toothbrushing in a noncontact mode, changing the viscoelastic properties of biofilm in a direction that increases antimicrobial penetration of chlorhexidine and cetylpyridinium.


The biofilm left behind after noncontact powered toothbrushing may have less recalcitrance toward penetration of chlorhexidine and cetylpyridinium chloride than prior to brushing.

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