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J Dent Res. 1988 Feb;67(2):438-46.

Analysis of the buffering systems in dental plaque.

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MRC Dental Group, Dental School, Bristol, United Kingdom.


A semi-micro method was used for investigation of the buffering properties of whole plaque, plaque fluid, and washed plaque bacteria. Artifacts associated with titration of samples containing live bacteria were noted and their effects estimated. All three sample types showed minimal buffering in the region of neutrality, with much stronger buffering in the regions pH 4-5.5 and pH 8-9. For the range pH 4-7, almost 90% of the total buffer capacity of plaque appeared to be accounted for by macromolecules of bacterial cell walls and plaque matrix. Extracellular buffers in plaque fluid removable by centrifugation contributed up to 11%. These buffers (probably soluble proteins, peptides, organic acids, and phosphate) are, potentially at least, capable of exchange with saliva. In vitro, bicarbonate (dissolved in the extracellular fluid) contributed only 2-5% of total buffering; there was no evidence of formation of carbamino compounds. However, in vivo, salivary bicarbonate may be important as a continually replenished source of additional buffering.

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