Microbiology of dental plaque biofilms and their role in oral health and caries

Dent Clin North Am. 2010 Jul;54(3):441-54. doi: 10.1016/j.cden.2010.03.002.


Dental plaque is the biofilm found naturally on teeth. Dental plaque is also implicated in dental caries, which is associated with shifts in the microbial balance of the biofilm resulting in increased proportions of acid producing and acid tolerating bacteria, especially (but not exclusively) mutans streptococci and lactobacilli. The regular intake of fermentable dietary sugars, or impaired saliva flow, produces persistent conditions of low pH within the biofilm, which selects for these cariogenic bacteria. Clinicians should prevent this disruption to the natural microbial balance of the biofilm (relevant approaches are described) rather than merely treating its consequences by restoring cavities.

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / classification
  • Biofilms / classification*
  • Dental Caries / microbiology*
  • Dental Caries / pathology
  • Dental Plaque / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Microbial Interactions
  • Mouth / microbiology*
  • Oral Health*