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J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2007;21(2):92-101. Epub 2007 Feb 21.

Substantivity of zinc salts used as rinsing solutions and their effect on the inhibition of Streptococcus mutans.

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Department of Oral Medicine, School of Dentistry, University of Granada, Granada, Spain.


The antimicrobial efficacy of zinc (Zn) salts (sulfate and acetate) against Streptococcus mutans (S. mutans) present in the oral cavity was tested in this study. The substantivity of Zn salts was assessed by determining the concentration of Zn in whole, unstimulated saliva and by measuring the magnitude of suppression of salivary S. mutans, 2h after rinsing. The concentration of Zn was measured by atomic absorption spectrometry (AAS) with electrothermal atomization (ET AAS) in saliva sampled before (basal) and 24h after mouth rinsing with different concentrations of Zn (0.1%, 0.5% and 1%) administrated as sulfate and acetate. The estimation of Zn levels in samples collected 30, 60, 90 and 120 min after rinsing was carried out by AAS with flame atomization (FAAS). Immediately after rinsing, the concentration of Zn in saliva sharply increased with respect to the baseline values (0.055+/-0.017 mg/L), followed by a sustained decrease, probably due to clearance of salivary flow or swallowing during sampling. A significant reduction (>87%) in the total mean S. mutans counts was found 2h after rinsing either with sulfate or acetate solutions, as evidence of the high substantivity and effectiveness of the Zn salts tested. A statistically significant inverse relationship (p<0.001 and the Pearson correlation coefficients between -34% and -50%) was found between Zn levels and the respective pH values measured in the samples collected 60 and 120 min after rinsing, sustaining the theory of bacterial glycolysis inhibition.

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