Effect of Antimicrobial Interventions on the Oral Microbiota Associated with Early Childhood Caries

Pediatr Dent. May-Jun 2015;37(3):226-44.


Purpose: The purposes of this systematic literature review were to identify research-based evidence for an effect of antimicrobial therapeutic approaches on the cariogenic microbiota and early childhood caries (ECC) outcomes; and to review methods used to perform microbial assessments in clinical studies of ECC.

Methods: Multiple databases were searched; only clinical cohort studies and randomized controlled trials published from 1998 to 2014 were selected. A total of 471 titles and abstracts were identified; 114 studies met the inclusion criteria for a full review, from which 41 studies were included in the meta-analyses.

Results: In most of the reviewed studies, moderate reductions in cariogenic bacterial levels, mainly in mutans streptococci (MS), were demonstrated following the use of antimicrobial agents, but bacterial regrowth occurred and new carious lesions developed once the treatment had ceased, particularly in high-risk children. Relatively consistent findings suggested that anti-cariogenic microbial interventions in mothers significantly reduced MS acquisition by children. However, studies of the long-term benefits of ECC prevention are lacking.

Conclusion: Based on the meta-analyses, antimicrobial interventions and treatments show temporary reductions in MS colonization levels. However, there is insufficient evidence to indicate that the approaches used produced sustainable effects on cariogenic microbial colonization or ECC reduction and prevention.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local / therapeutic use
  • Bacterial Load / drug effects
  • Cariostatic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dental Caries / microbiology*
  • Dental Caries / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Microbial Consortia / physiology
  • Mouth / microbiology*
  • Streptococcus mutans / drug effects


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local
  • Cariostatic Agents