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Community Dent Oral Epidemiol. 2005 Aug;33(4):248-55.

The complex oral microflora of high-risk individuals and groups and its role in the caries process.

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1
Department of Microbiology, Dental Institute, King's College London, London, UK. david.beighton@kcl.ac.uk

Abstract

The involvement of the oral biofilm in the caries process requires re-evaluation. The essential role of mutans streptococci (Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sobrinus) in the caries process is not proven. Acid production by dental plaque is not dependent upon the presence of mutans streptococci; caries occurs in the absence of these species and their presence does not necessarily indicate caries activity. Other oral bacteria, non-mutans streptococci, Actinomyces spp. and Bifidobacterium spp., are acidogenic and aciduric. They outnumber mutans streptococci in dental plaque, and there are data which support a role for these bacteria in the initiation and progression of caries. Molecular studies demonstrate the great diversity and complexity of the flora associated with caries. Many taxa identified have not been cultured and the role of these taxa is not known. We have, in mutans streptococci, good markers of disease but not necessarily the aetiological agents of the disease. Considerably more research is required to investigate the transition of tooth surfaces from being intact and sound to the white spot lesion stage. A combination of conventional and molecular approaches are required to elucidate the involvement of an individual taxon and of microbial populations with particular traits in the caries process.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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