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J Dent Res. 2011 Nov;90(11):1298-305. doi: 10.1177/0022034511421201. Epub 2011 Aug 25.

Microbiota of severe early childhood caries before and after therapy.

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Department of Molecular Genetics, The Forsyth Institute, 245 First Street, Cambridge, MA 02142, USA.


Severe early childhood caries (ECC) is difficult to treat successfully. This study aimed to characterize the microbiota of severe ECC and evaluate whether baseline or follow-up microbiotas are associated with new lesions post-treatment. Plaque samples from 2- to 6-year-old children were analyzed by a 16S rRNA-based microarray and by PCR for selected taxa. Severe-ECC children were monitored for 12 months post-therapy. By microarray, species associated with severe-ECC (n = 53) compared with caries-free (n = 32) children included Slackia exigua (p = 0.002), Streptococcus parasanguinis (p = 0.013), and Prevotella species (p < 0.02). By PCR, severe-ECC-associated taxa included Bifidobacteriaceae (p < 0.001), Scardovia wiggsiae (p = 0.003), Streptococcus mutans with bifidobacteria (p < 0.001), and S. mutans with S. wiggsiae (p = 0.001). In follow-up, children without new lesions (n = 36) showed lower detection of taxa including S. mutans, changes not observed in children with follow-up lesions (n = 17). Partial least-squares modeling separated the children into caries-free and two severe-ECC groups with either a stronger bacterial or a stronger dietary component. We conclude that several species, including S. wiggsiae and S. exigua, are associated with the ecology of advanced caries, that successful treatment is accompanied by a change in the microbiota, and that severe ECC is diverse, with influences from selected bacteria or from diet.

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