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Caries Res. 1992;26(3):183-7.

Mutans streptococci and lactobacilli in breast-fed children with rampant caries.

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Department of Microbiology, Muhimbili University College of Health Sciences, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.


This study aimed to investigate the prevalence of selected components of the oral microflora in breast-fed children who developed rampant caries (resembling nursing caries) under hitherto unexplained circumstances. Dental plaque and saliva samples were collected from breast-fed children, aged between 1 and 2.5 years, with and without rampant caries. Mutans streptococci and lactobacilli were isolated from dental plaque of all children with rampant caries and from most caries-free children. None of the colonies of mutans streptococci resembled those of Streptococcus sobrinus. The mean counts of the mutans streptococci and lactobacilli were 100-fold higher in plaque samples from children with rampant caries as compared with caries-free children. No difference could be found between the numbers of mutans streptococci in plaque overlaying cavities and that from adjacent sound enamel. In contrast, the counts of lactobacilli in plaque were approximately 100-fold higher from cavities than from sound surfaces. The levels of mutans streptococci in saliva were directly related to the presence of rampant caries. The results show that caries-free and caries-active breast-fed children, aged 1 to 2.5 years, harbour mutans streptococci and lactobacilli on their teeth. Rampant caries in these children can occur in the absence of nursing bottles or any other feeding abuse during weaning and in the presence of an aciduric plaque microflora, as has been reported for children with nursing bottle caries.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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