Quantitative assessment of urea, glucose and ammonia changes in human dental plaque and saliva following rinsing with urea and glucose

Arch Oral Biol. 1983;28(10):923-9. doi: 10.1016/0003-9969(83)90088-2.


The rates of three processes associated with the rise and fall in plaque pH, that normally occur following a urea rinse, were determined: (i) disappearance of urea from plaque, (ii) disappearance of urea from saliva and (iii) formation and disappearance from plaque of the ammonia produced by the plaque bacteria from the urea. Also examined were two processes associated with the fall and rise in pH following a glucose rinse: the disappearance of glucose from plaque and from saliva. Entry into plaque of either urea or glucose during rinsing was immediate; the subsequent disappearance of both from the plaque was slow and followed first-order kinetics. The ammonia formation and urea-disappearance results suggested that clearance of urea from the plaque occurred mainly by bacterial degradation and not by diffusion out of the plaque. The rate constants for ammonia formation and for its subsequent disappearance from the plaque made it clear why a rapid rise and a slow subsequent fall in the pH occurs after urea rinsing. The rate constants enabled calculation of the ammonia produced as a percentage of the urea utilized. Only 16-26 per cent of the urea was recovered as ammonia and the remainder of the urea-N was stored probably as NH2 moieties of certain amino acids. Such storage may enable the plaque bacteria to maintain the pH at an elevated level for an extended period of time by bacterial production of ammonia from these stored compounds after the urea ceases to be available as a source of substrate.

MeSH terms

  • Ammonia / metabolism*
  • Dental Plaque / drug effects*
  • Dental Plaque / metabolism
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Glucose / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Mouthwashes / pharmacology*
  • Saliva / drug effects
  • Saliva / metabolism
  • Urea / metabolism*
  • Urea / pharmacology


  • Mouthwashes
  • Ammonia
  • Urea
  • Glucose