2015 Volume 34 Issue 2 Pages 29-36
Previous studies have demonstrated that the presence of lactic acid bacteria (LAB), especially those classified into the genus Lactobacillus, is associated with the progression of dental caries in preschool children. Nevertheless, the kinds of species of LAB and the characteristics that are important for dental caries have been unclear. The aims of this study were: (1) to investigate the distribution of oral LAB among Japanese preschool children with various prevalence levels of caries; and (2) to reveal the characteristics of these isolated LAB species. Seventy-four Japanese preschool children were examined for caries scores and caries progression, and their dental cavity samples were collected for LAB isolation and identification. The saliva-induced agglutination rate and the resistance to acidic environments of the identified strains were measured. Statistical analysis showed that preschool children carrying Lactobacillus (L.) salivarius or Streptococcus mutans have a significantly higher prevalence of dental caries, the growth ability in acidic environments correlates with the caries scores of individuals with L. salivarius, and the caries scores exhibit positive correlation with saliva-induced agglutination in L. salivarius. These results show that specific Lactobacillus species are associated with dental caries based on the level of carious lesion severity. The present study suggests that these specific Lactobacillus species, especially those with easily agglutinated properties and acid resistance, affect the dental caries scores of preschool children, and that these properties may provide useful information for research into the prevention of dental caries.