The virulence of Streptococcus mutans and the ability to form biofilms

Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. 2014 Apr;33(4):499-515. doi: 10.1007/s10096-013-1993-7. Epub 2013 Oct 24.


In some diseases, a very important role is played by the ability of bacteria to form multi-dimensional complex structure known as biofilm. The most common disease of the oral cavity, known as dental caries, is a top leader. Streptococcus mutans, one of the many etiological factors of dental caries, is a microorganism which is able to acquire new properties allowing for the expression of pathogenicity determinants determining its virulence in specific environmental conditions. Through the mechanism of adhesion to a solid surface, S. mutans is capable of colonizing the oral cavity and also of forming bacterial biofilm. Additional properties enabling S. mutans to colonize the oral cavity include the ability to survive in an acidic environment and specific interaction with other microorganisms colonizing this ecosystem. This review is an attempt to establish which characteristics associated with biofilm formation--virulence determinants of S. mutans--are responsible for the development of dental caries. In order to extend the knowledge of the nature of Streptococcus infections, an attempt to face the following problems will be made: Biofilm formation as a complex process of protein-bacterium interaction. To what extent do microorganisms of the cariogenic flora exemplified by S. mutans differ in virulence determinants "expression" from microorganisms of physiological flora? How does the environment of the oral cavity and its microorganisms affect the biofilm formation of dominant species? How do selected inhibitors affect the biofilm formation of cariogenic microorganisms?

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biofilms*
  • Dental Caries / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Streptococcus mutans / chemistry
  • Streptococcus mutans / pathogenicity
  • Streptococcus mutans / physiology*
  • Tooth / microbiology
  • Virulence