Microbial risk indicators of early childhood caries

J Clin Microbiol. 2005 Nov;43(11):5753-9. doi: 10.1128/JCM.43.11.5753-5759.2005.


The aim of this study was to use molecular identification methods, such as 16S RNA gene sequence and reverse-capture checkerboard hybridization, for identification of the bacteria associated with dental caries and with dental health in a subset of 204 twins aged 1.5 to 7 years old. A total of 448 plaque samples (118 collected from caries-free subjects and 330 from caries-active subjects) were used for analysis. We compared the bacteria found in biofilms of children exhibiting severe dental caries, with different degrees of lesion severity, with those found in biofilms of caries-free children. A panel of 82 bacterial species was selected, and a PCR-based reverse-capture checkerboard method was used for detection. A simple univariate test was used to determine the overabundance and underabundance of bacterial species in the diseased and in the healthy groups. Features identified with this univariate test were used to construct a probabilistic disease prediction model. Furthermore, a method for the analysis of global patterns of gene expression was performed to permit simultaneous analysis of the abundance of significant species by allowing cross-bacterial comparisons of abundance profiles between caries-active and caries-free subjects. Our results suggested that global patterns of microbial abundance in this population are very distinctive. The top bacterial species found to be overabundant in the caries-active group were Actinomyces sp. strain B19SC, Streptococcus mutans, and Lactobacillus spp., which exhibited an inverse relationship to beneficial bacterial species, such as Streptococcus parasanguinis, Abiotrophia defectiva, Streptococcus mitis, Streptococcus oralis, and Streptococcus sanguinis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dental Caries / microbiology*
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / genetics
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Polysorbates
  • RNA, Bacterial / analysis
  • RNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / analysis
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Species Specificity


  • Polysorbates
  • RNA, Bacterial
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S