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J Dent Res. 1996 Apr;75(4):1008-14.

The final pH of bacteria comprising the predominant flora on sound and carious human root and enamel surfaces.

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


Acidogenesis at low pH appears to be an important bacterial cariogenic trait. However, most information in this regard pertains to only a few of the acidogenic dental plaque bacteria. Therefore, the 'final' pH in sugar broth was determined for a wide variety of oral bacteria. Their source was: (1) carious material from advanced root lesions (ARL), (2) plaque from sound root surfaces of root-caries-free subjects (SRS), (3) plaque from "white spot" coronal lesions and sound coronal surfaces of caries-active subjects, and (4) plaque from sound coronal surfaces of caries-free subjects. Strains from groups 1 and 2 (ARL, 389 strains; SRS, 358 strains) were previously identified (van Houte et al., 1994) to the genus/species level and belonged to the predominant cultivable flora (PCF). Strains from groups 3 and 4 also belonged to the PCF but were not identified. All strains were placed in one of 4 final pH categories: < 4.2, 4.2-4.4, 4.4-4.6, and > or = 4.6. The main findings were: (1) ARL samples contained many strains with a final pH < 4.2 (mean percentage of 25.7). They included all strains of Lactobacillus and mutans streptococci (MS), most Bifidobacterium strains and non-mutans streptococci (non-MS), and about 20% of the Actinomyces strains. By contrast, SRS samples contained far fewer strains with a final pH < 4.2 (mean percentage of 8.4) which were nearly all non-MS. (2) Organisms with a final pH < 4.4 constituted mean percentages of 41.5 and 32.1 for the ARL and SRS samples, respectively. (3) The final pH distribution of strains in samples from coronal surfaces showed a tendency relative to caries activity (group 3 vs. group 4) similar to that for groups 1 and 2. Our findings further support the concept that increased cariogenic conditions are associated with increased proportions of organisms capable of acidogenesis at a low pH and that this shift involves organisms other than the MS and lactobacilli.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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