Acid production in dental plaque after exposure to probiotic bacteria

BMC Oral Health. 2012 Oct 24:12:44. doi: 10.1186/1472-6831-12-44.


Background: The increasing interest in probiotic lactobacilli in health maintenance has raised the question of potential risks. One possible side effect could be an increased acidogenicity in dental plaque. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of probiotic lactobacilli on plaque lactic acid (LA) production in vitro and in vivo.

Methods: In the first part (A), suspensions of two lactobacilli strains (L. reuteri DSM 17938, L. plantarum 299v) were added to suspensions of supragingival dental plaque collected from healthy young adults (n=25). LA production after fermentation with either xylitol or fructose was analyzed. In the second part (B), subjects (n=18) were given lozenges with probiotic lactobacilli (L. reuteri DSM 17938 and ATCC PTA 5289) or placebo for two weeks in a double-blinded, randomized cross-over trial. The concentration of LA in supragingival plaque samples was determined at baseline and after 2 weeks. Salivary counts of mutans streptococci (MS) and lactobacilli were estimated with chair-side methods.

Results: Plaque suspensions with L. reuteri DSM 17938 produced significantly less LA compared with L. plantarum 299v or controls (p<0.05). Fructose gave higher LA concentrations than xylitol. In part B, there were no significant differences in LA production between baseline and follow up in any of the groups and no differences between test and placebo were displayed. The salivary MS counts were not significantly altered during the intervention but the lactobacilli counts increased significantly in the test group (p<0.05).

Conclusion: Lactic acid production in suspensions of plaque and probiotic lactobacilli was strain-dependant and the present study provides no evidence of an increase in plaque acidity by the supply of selected probiotic lactobacilli when challenged by fructose or xylitol. The study protocol was approved by The Danish National Committee on Biomedical Research Ethics (protocol no H-2-2010-112).

Trial registration: NCT01700712.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bacterial Load
  • Bacteriological Techniques
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • DMF Index
  • Dental Plaque / metabolism*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Fermentation
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Fructose / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lactic Acid / biosynthesis*
  • Lactobacillus / metabolism*
  • Lactobacillus plantarum / metabolism
  • Limosilactobacillus reuteri / growth & development
  • Limosilactobacillus reuteri / metabolism
  • Male
  • Placebos
  • Probiotics / metabolism*
  • Saliva / microbiology
  • Spectrophotometry
  • Streptococcus mutans / growth & development
  • Xylitol / metabolism


  • Placebos
  • Fructose
  • Lactic Acid
  • Xylitol

Associated data