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Curr Microbiol. 2010 Jan;60(1):25-9. doi: 10.1007/s00284-009-9496-6. Epub 2009 Sep 24.

Xylitol and erythritol decrease adherence of polysaccharide-producing oral streptococci.

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Institute of Dentistry, University of Turku, Turku, Finland.


Xylitol consumption decreases counts of mutans streptococci. However, the mechanism behind this decrease is not well understood. We studied not only type strains and clinical isolates of mutans streptococci, but also other polysaccharide-forming oral streptococci. Growth inhibition and adherence of cells to a smooth glass surface-reflecting synthesis of water-insoluble polysaccharides were studied in the presence of 2% (0.13 mol/l) and 4% (0.26 mol/l) xylitol. The effect of xylitol was compared to a novel polyol sweetener, erythritol. Except for Streptococcus mutans 10449 and S. sobrinus OMZ 176, the glass surface adhesion of most polysaccharide-forming streptococci was reduced by the presence of both 4% xylitol and erythritol. For the S. mutans and S. sobrinus type strains, the growth inhibition with 4% xylitol and erythritol was 36-77% and for the clinical S. mutans isolates 13-73%. Of the other oral streptococci, only S. sanguinis was inhibited with 4% xylitol (45-55%). For both polyols, the magnitude of the growth inhibition observed was not associated with the magnitude of the decrease in adherence (xylitol: r = -0.18; erythritol: r = 0.49). In conclusion, both xylitol and erythritol can decrease polysaccharide-mediated cell adherence contributing to plaque accumulation through a mechanism not dependent on growth inhibition.

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