Tansmission, diversity and virulence factors of Sreptococcus mutans genotypes

J Oral Sci. 2005 Jun;47(2):59-64. doi: 10.2334/josnusd.47.59.


Dental caries is an infectious and transmissible disease, in which many genetic, environmental and behavioral risk factors interact. The mutans streptococci (MS), mainly Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sobrinus are the microorganisms most strongly associated with this disease. The main virulence factors associated with MS cariogenicity include adhesion, acidogenicity and acid tolerance. These properties work together to modify the physico-chemical properties of the biofilm, resulting in ecological changes in the form of increased proportions of S. mutans and other acidogenic and aciduric species. In addition, reports of higher numbers of S. mutans genotypes with increased virulence in caries-active subjects suggest the importance of microenvironmental factors in increasing the risk of caries. This review focuses on the transmission and establishment of different genotypes of S. mutans and the role they play in the development of dental caries.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Adhesion / genetics
  • Bacteriocins / genetics
  • Dental Caries / microbiology*
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Streptococcal Infections / transmission*
  • Streptococcus mutans / genetics*
  • Streptococcus mutans / pathogenicity*
  • Streptococcus sobrinus / genetics
  • Streptococcus sobrinus / pathogenicity
  • Virulence Factors / genetics


  • Bacteriocins
  • Virulence Factors