Microbiologic aspects of dental plaque and dental caries

Dent Clin North Am. 1999 Oct;43(4):599-614, v-vi.


Dental plaque is an example of a microbial biofilm with a diverse microbial composition; it is found naturally on teeth and confers advantages to the host, for example, by preventing colonization by exogenous, and often pathogenic, micro-organisms. In individuals with a high frequency sugar diet, or with a severely compromised saliva flow, the levels of potentially cariogenic bacteria (acid-producing and acid-tolerating species) can increase beyond those compatible with enamel health. This article discusses antimicrobial strategies to control dental caries, including; reducing plaque levels, in general or specific cariogenic bacteria in particular, by antiplaque or antimicrobial agents; reducing bacterial acid production by replacing fermentable carbohydrates in the diet with sugar substitutes, or by interfering with bacterial metabolism with fluoride or antimicrobial agents.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Bacteria / drug effects
  • Bacteria / growth & development
  • Bacterial Adhesion
  • Biofilms
  • Cariostatic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Dental Caries / microbiology*
  • Dental Caries / prevention & control
  • Dental Plaque / microbiology*
  • Dental Plaque / prevention & control
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage
  • Fluorides / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Saliva / metabolism
  • Sweetening Agents / therapeutic use
  • Tooth / microbiology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Cariostatic Agents
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Sweetening Agents
  • Fluorides