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Oral Microbiol Immunol. 1991 Jun;6(3):129-33.

Ecology of viridans streptococci in the oral cavity and pharynx.

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Department of Oral Biology, Royal Dental College, Arhus, Denmark.


Recently published taxonomic studies of viridans streptococci have resulted in several changes in the nomenclature and definition of oral streptococcal species. With this background, the ecology of streptococci in the oropharyngeal cavities was reinvestigated. The results based on the examination of 1426 streptococcal isolates confirmed and extended earlier findings. Apart from mature supragingival plaque, which contained a mixture of all orally encountered streptococci, each site showed a characteristic streptococcal flora. Initial dental plaque formation is primarily associated with Streptococcus sanguis, Streptococcus mitis biovar 1 and Streptococcus oralis. Our investigation showed that S. sanguis and S. mitis biovar 1 were the most prominent streptococci, also on buccal mucosa. In contrast, S. oralis was almost exclusively found in initial dental plaque. Streptococcus gordonii, formerly part of S. sanguis, was found in small numbers on the oropharyngeal mucosa and in mature supragingival plaque. The dorsum of the tongue was dominated by S. mitis biovar 2 and Streptococcus salivarius, the latter of which was predominant also on the pharyngeal mucosa. Streptococcus anginosus was by far the most predominant streptococcus in subgingival plaque. Immunoglobulin A1 (IgA1) protease-producing streptococci were primarily isolated from initial dental plaque and from the buccal mucosa. This lends further support to the concept of IgA1 proteases being important for the ability of streptococci to evade the local immune defence during their initial colonization of certain oral surfaces.

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