Objective: The objective was to analyse the ability of Lactobacillus strains isolated from supragingival plaque of subjects with hyposalivation and from healthy controls to ferment sugars and sugar alcohols.
Material and methods: Fifty strains isolated from interproximal plaque from subjects with radiation-induced hyposalivation (25 strains), subjects with primary Sjögren's syndrome (16 strains) and from subjects with normal salivary secretion rate (9 strains) were tested. Growth and pH were determined after 24 and 48 h of anaerobic incubation in vials containing basal media with 1 % of glucose, fructose, sucrose, mannitol, sorbitol or xylitol.
Results: No differences between strains isolated from hyposalivated subjects and controls were detected. All strains lowered the pH to <5.0 from fructose and the majority of the strains from glucose and sucrose. A pH of <5.5 was seen for 52 % of the strains using mannitol, 50 % using sorbitol and 36 % using xylitol. The ability to produce acids from sugars and sugar alcohols was highest among strains of Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus paracasei and lowest among Lactobacillus fermentum strains.
Conclusion: A large number of Lactobacillus strains are able to ferment not only sugars but also the sugar substitutes mannitol, sorbitol and xylitol to pH levels critical for enamel demineralisation.
Clinical relevance: Our findings suggest that products containing mannitol, sorbitol and/or xylitol may contribute to the acidogenic potential of the dental plaque and especially in hyposalivated subjects with high numbers of lactobacilli.