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Caries Res. 1994;28(2):106-15.

Cariogenic potential of foods. II. Relationship of food composition, plaque microbial counts, and salivary parameters to caries in the rat model.

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Department of Oral Sciences, Eastman Dental Center, Rochester, N.Y. 14620.


A series of rat caries experiments was carried out to test the relative cariogenic potential and to identify the major carcinogenic elements of 22 popular snack foods. Parameters that were measured included rat caries, number of cariogenic bacteria in plaque, salivary parameters including flow rate, buffering capacity, total protein, lysozyme and amylase content, and composition of test foods including protein, fat, phosphorus, calcium, fluoride, galactose, glucose, total reducing sugar, sucrose, and starch. Many interesting relationships were observed between food components, numbers of plaque bacteria, salivary components, and specific types of carious lesions. Protein, fat, and phosphorus in foods were all associated with inhibition of both sulcal and buccolingual (smooth-surface) caries. Food fluoride was associated with inhibition of buccolingual caries, whereas calcium was related to inhibition of sulcal caries. Glucose, reducing sugar, and sucrose in foods were all related to promotion of both sulcal and smooth-surface caries. The numbers of Streptococcus sobrinus in plaque were associated with promotion of smooth-surface caries only, whereas lactobacilli, non-mutans bacteria, and total viable flora were related to promotion of both smooth-surface and sulcal caries. The salivary flow rate was associated with inhibition of both buccolingual and sulcal caries. Salivary buffering capacity (at pH 7) and salivary lysozyme delivery were associated with inhibition of number and severity of sulcal caries, while the salivary amylase content was related to the promotion of the number of sulcal lesions.

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