Microbiota of severe early childhood caries before and after therapy

J Dent Res. 2011 Nov;90(11):1298-305. doi: 10.1177/0022034511421201. Epub 2011 Aug 25.


Severe early childhood caries (ECC) is difficult to treat successfully. This study aimed to characterize the microbiota of severe ECC and evaluate whether baseline or follow-up microbiotas are associated with new lesions post-treatment. Plaque samples from 2- to 6-year-old children were analyzed by a 16S rRNA-based microarray and by PCR for selected taxa. Severe-ECC children were monitored for 12 months post-therapy. By microarray, species associated with severe-ECC (n = 53) compared with caries-free (n = 32) children included Slackia exigua (p = 0.002), Streptococcus parasanguinis (p = 0.013), and Prevotella species (p < 0.02). By PCR, severe-ECC-associated taxa included Bifidobacteriaceae (p < 0.001), Scardovia wiggsiae (p = 0.003), Streptococcus mutans with bifidobacteria (p < 0.001), and S. mutans with S. wiggsiae (p = 0.001). In follow-up, children without new lesions (n = 36) showed lower detection of taxa including S. mutans, changes not observed in children with follow-up lesions (n = 17). Partial least-squares modeling separated the children into caries-free and two severe-ECC groups with either a stronger bacterial or a stronger dietary component. We conclude that several species, including S. wiggsiae and S. exigua, are associated with the ecology of advanced caries, that successful treatment is accompanied by a change in the microbiota, and that severe ECC is diverse, with influences from selected bacteria or from diet.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria, Anaerobic / isolation & purification
  • Bacterial Typing Techniques
  • Bifidobacterium / isolation & purification
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • DNA, Bacterial / analysis
  • Dental Caries / microbiology*
  • Dental Caries / therapy*
  • Dental Plaque / microbiology
  • Diet, Cariogenic
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Least-Squares Analysis
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Prevotella / isolation & purification
  • Recurrence
  • Streptococcus mutans / isolation & purification


  • DNA, Bacterial