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J Dent Res. 1994 Mar;73(3):672-81.

Role of micro-organisms in caries etiology.

Author information

1
Forsyth Dental Center, Department of Oral Microbiology, Boston, Massachusetts 02115.

Abstract

The microbial etiology of dental caries is discussed in terms of the dynamic relationship among the dental plaque microbiota, dietary carbohydrate, saliva, and the pH-lowering and cariogenic potential of dental plaque. The evidence supports a concept of caries as a dietary carbohydrate-modified bacterial infectious disease. Its key feature is a dietary carbohydrate-induced enrichment of the plaque microbiota with organisms such as the mutans streptococci and lactobacilli which causes an increase of plaque's pH-lowering and cariogenic potential. The shift in the plaque proportions of these organisms appears to be related to their relatively high acid tolerance. A large body of evidence also supports a major effect of saliva on caries development. Integration of salivary effects with the concept of caries as a dietary carbohydrate-modified bacterial infectious disease suggests a broader concept which includes a major role of saliva in the regulation of the exposure of tooth surfaces to carbohydrate and of plaque acidity and, hence, the microbial composition and the pH-lowering and cariogenic potential of dental plaque. It is proposed that caries occurs preferentially in dentition sites characterized by a relatively high exposure to carbohydrate and diminished salivary effects. Some implications of this concept are discussed.

PMID:
8163737
DOI:
10.1177/00220345940730031301
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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