Effect of conventional dental restorative treatment on bacteria in saliva

J. Tim Wright, Gary R. Cutter, Ananda P. Dasanayake, H. MacStiles, Page W. Caufield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Dental caries results from the dissolution of mineralized dental tissues by the metabolic by‐products of oral bacteria colonizing the surface of teeth. The principal modality for dealing with this infectious process is through restorative treatment which removes the pathologic tissue and replaces it with a variety of inert materials. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of traditional restorative treatment on select oral bacterial populations. Fifty‐two females demonstrating high levels of mutans streptococci (≥ 2.5 × 104 colony forming units (cfu) per ml saliva) with no more than four missing posterior teeth were recruited for this study. Salivary levels of mutans streptococci, lactobacilli, total streptococci, and total cultivable bacteria were evaluated before, during, and after restorative treatment. Initial DMFS scores were established by two standardized examiners using bitewing radiographs and clinical examination, which was conducted under optimal conditions. All restorative treatment was completed by faculty members of the University of Alabama School of Dentistry using treatment plans developed by the DMFS examiners. The participants received a mean of 16.4 restored surfaces, which resulted in significant reductions of all the bacterial populations tested. All microbial populations monitored were predicted to return to their baseline levels within 151 days after restorative treatment in 50% of the participants. This study shows that conventional restorative treatment results in a significant reduction of bacterial populations including those associated with the dental caries process, i.e., mutans streptococci and lactobacilli. Although restorative treatment is essential for replacing form and function to the dentition, it does not appear to have a prolonged effect on any of the salivary bacterial populations monitored, including those thought responsible for dental caries. Ideally, comprehensive treatment of dental caries should address the infectious nature of this disease through modalities directed at controlling bacterial colonization as well as restoring the afflicted dentition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)138-143
Number of pages6
JournalCommunity Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1992


  • dental caries
  • lactobacilli
  • mutans streptococci
  • restorative treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Dentistry
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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