Effect of xylitol on an in vitro model of oral biofilm

Oral Health Prev Dent. 2008;6(4):337-41.


Purpose: The aim of the present study was to examine whether xylitol, at different concentrations, inhibits the formation of an experimental model of oral biofilm.

Materials and methods: Biofilms of six bacterial species (Streptococcus mutans, Streptococcus sobrinus, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Actinomyces viscosus, Porphyromonas gingivalis and Fusobacterium nucleatum) were prepared on hydroxyapatite (HA) discs according to the Zürich Biofilm Model. Xylitol was tested at two concentrations, 1% and 3%. At the end of their designated incubation times, some HA discs were destined for confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) and the others were harvested using a sterile surgical instrument. Aliquots of harvested biofilms were diluted and plated onto specific media. After a 48-h anaerobic incubation at 37 degrees C, the colony-forming units (CFUs) were counted.

Results: CLSM images showed that only a small amount of isolated bacteria was observed on the surface of HA discs. Culture of harvested biofilms showed an inhibition in the growth of different species included in the biofilms.

Conclusions: Xylitol has a clear inhibitory effect on the formation of the experimental biofilms. This study shows that xylitol is not only efficient in inhibiting the acid production of cariogenic bacteria, but also in preventing the formation of a multispecies biofilm; it confirms the relevance of the use of this polyol for the prevention of oral diseases caused by dental plaque.

MeSH terms

  • Actinomyces viscosus / drug effects
  • Actinomyces viscosus / physiology
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Biofilms / drug effects*
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Dental Deposits / microbiology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Durapatite
  • Fusobacterium nucleatum / drug effects
  • Fusobacterium nucleatum / physiology
  • Gram-Negative Aerobic Rods and Cocci / drug effects*
  • Gram-Negative Aerobic Rods and Cocci / physiology
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / drug effects*
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / physiology
  • Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosus / drug effects
  • Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosus / physiology
  • Porphyromonas gingivalis / drug effects
  • Porphyromonas gingivalis / physiology
  • Streptococcus mutans / drug effects
  • Streptococcus mutans / physiology
  • Streptococcus sobrinus / drug effects
  • Streptococcus sobrinus / physiology
  • Tooth, Artificial / microbiology
  • Xylitol / pharmacology*


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Durapatite
  • Xylitol