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Oral Microbiol Immunol. 1993 Oct;8(5):277-82.

Fimbria damage and removal of adherent bacteria after exposure to acoustic energy.

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Center for Bioengineering, University of Washington, Seattle.


The physical effects of low-frequency acoustic energy on Actinomyces viscosus were studied with electron microscopy to explore both acoustically induced damage to fimbriae on the surface of these bacteria and acoustic removal of bacteria from saliva-treated hydroxyapatite disks. A bacterial suspension was exposed to acoustic energy from a laboratory acoustic generator (50 kPa, 200 Hz) and from a new electronic toothbrush, the Sonicare. The exposed bacteria were examined with electron microscopy after negative staining. A decrease in both the percentage of bacterial surface covered with fimbriae and the fimbria length was observed after acoustic exposure. To study the acoustic effects on adherent bacteria, A. viscosus bound to hydroxyapatite disks were exposed to acoustic energy and examined with scanning electron microscopy. Quantitative evaluation of the micrographs for the number of bacteria present after exposure revealed that acoustic energy removed both bacteria adherent to the hydroxyapatite surface and adherent to each other. The results support the concept that an electronic toothbrush employing low-frequency acoustic energy may help prevent and control periodontal diseases by altering bacterial adherence.

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