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Can J Microbiol. 2011 Jan;57(1):1-20. doi: 10.1139/w10-095.

[Streptococcus mutans and oral streptococci in dental plaque].

[Article in French]

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  • 1Département de biochimie microbiologie et bioinformatique, Université Laval, Québec, Canada.


The human oral microbial biota represents a highly diverse biofilm. Twenty-five species of oral streptococci inhabit the human oral cavity and represent about 20 % of the total oral bacteria. Taxonomy of these bacteria is complex and remains provisional. Oral streptococci encompass friends and foes bacteria. Each species has developed specific properties for colonizing the different oral sites subjected to constantly changing conditions, for competing against competitors, and for resisting external agressions (host immune system, physico-chemical shocks, and mechanical frictions). Imbalance in the indigenous microbial biota generates oral diseases, and under proper conditions, commensal streptococci can switch to opportunistic pathogens that initiate disease in and damage to the host. The group of "mutans streptococci" was described as the most important bacteria related to the formation of dental caries. Streptococcus mutans, although naturally present among the human oral microbiota, is the microbial species most strongly associated with carious lesions. This minireview describes the oral streptococci ecology and their biofilm life style by focusing on the mutans group, mainly S. mutans. Virulence traits, interactions in the biofilm, and influence of S. mutans in dental caries etiology are discussed.

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