Site-specific subgingival colonization by Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans in orthodontic patients

Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop. 1999 Apr;115(4):423-8. doi: 10.1016/s0889-5406(99)70263-5.


A high prevalence of Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans (Aa) in subgingival plaque in patients for orthodontia already has been observed. The present study had the following aims: 1) to ascertain a direct relationship between the orthodontic appliance placement and the subgingival colonization by Aa, and 2) to determine whether the Aa growth specifically occurred on teeth with braces attached or whether the presence of orthodontic appliances could also cause the isolation of Aa in teeth free from therapeutic appliances. Twenty-four young systemically and periodontally healthy subjects with malaligned and crowded teeth in the anterior sextants of both dental arches participated in this study. After 1 session of ultrasonic scaling with oral hygiene instructions during the first experimental session, the mesiobuccal sites of the first molars and the distobuccal sites of the lateral incisors in both dental arches in each participant were subjected to clinical and microbiologic examination for the recovery of Aa. Clinical examination consisted of recording the presence of plaque and the examination of gingival bleeding on probing and probing depth. Microbiologic sampling was obtained with the insertion of 3 sterile paper points at the deepest part of each gingival sulcus. Altogether, 192 periodontal sites were examined. After the examinations, the patients received fixed orthodontic appliances in only 1 dental arch (test sites) and the other one was left free from appliances (control sites). Clinical examination and microbiologic sampling were repeated in the same experimental test and control sites after 4, 8, and 12 weeks. At the 12-week session, the orthodontic appliance was removed from the test arch, and, 4 weeks later, a further clinical and microbiologic examination was performed. The results showed that, during the period with orthodontic appliances, the presence of plaque scores and the gingival bleeding on probing scores were increased significantly and that Aa, initially absent from all but 1 subject, was isolated in 19 and 20 subjects after 4 and 8 weeks, respectively. Furthermore, no gingival sites from the control teeth (free from Aa colonization at baseline) showed positive results for the sought-after bacterium throughout the entire length of the study. It was concluded that the placement of orthodontic appliances promotes the subgingival growth of Aa; this specific microbial change is specifically restricted to subgingival plaque from orthodontic appliance-bearing teeth. The presence of orthodontic bands and brackets therefore cannot affect the microbiologic condition of the whole mouth.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans / isolation & purification*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Dental Plaque / etiology*
  • Dental Plaque / microbiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Orthodontic Appliances / adverse effects*