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J Dent Res. 2013 Jul;92(7):604-8. doi: 10.1177/0022034513487907. Epub 2013 May 2.

Oral arginine metabolism may decrease the risk for dental caries in children.

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Department of Restorative Dental Sciences, Division of Operative Dentistry, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA.


Arginine metabolism by oral bacteria via the arginine deiminase system (ADS) increases the local pH, which can neutralize the effects of acidification from sugar metabolism and reduce the cariogenicity of oral biofilms. To explore the relationship between oral arginine metabolism and dental caries experience in children, we measured ADS activity in oral samples from 100 children and correlated it with their caries status and type of dentition. Supragingival dental plaque was collected from tooth surfaces that were caries-lesion-free (PF) and from dentinal (PD) and enamel (PE) caries lesions. Regardless of children's caries status or type of dentition, PF (378.6) had significantly higher ADS activity compared with PD (208.4; p < .001) and PE (194.8; p = .005). There was no significant difference in the salivary arginolytic activity among children with different caries status. Mixed-model analysis showed that plaque caries status is significantly associated with ADS activity despite children's age, caries status, and dentition (p < .001), with healthy plaque predicting higher ADS activity compared with diseased plaque. Plaque arginine metabolism varies greatly among children and tooth sites, which may affect their susceptibility to caries.


arginine; bacteria; dental caries; dental plaque; oral biolfim; risk factor

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