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The road to ruin: the formation of disease-associated oral biofilms

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Nicholas JakubovicsORCiD



The colonization of oral surfaces by micro-organisms occurs in a characteristic sequence of stages, each of which is potentially amenable to external intervention. The process begins with the adhesion of bacteria to host receptors on epithelial cells or in the salivary pellicle covering tooth surfaces. Interbacterial cell-cell binding interactions facilitate the attachment of new species and increase the diversity of the adherent microbial population. Microbial growth in oral biofilms is influenced by the exchange of chemical signals, metabolites and toxic products between neighbouring cells. Bacterial cells on tooth surfaces (dental plaque) produce extracellular polymers such as complex carbohydrates and nucleic acids. These large molecules form a protective matrix that contributes to the development of dental caries and, possibly, to periodontitis. The identification of key microbial factors underlying each step in the formation of oral biofilms will provide new opportunities for preventative or therapeutic measures aimed at controlling oral infectious diseases.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Jakubovics NS, Kolenbrander PE

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Oral Diseases

Year: 2010

Volume: 16

Issue: 8

Pages: 729-739

Print publication date: 20/07/2010

ISSN (print): 1354-523X

ISSN (electronic): 1601-0825


DOI: 10.1111/j.1601-0825.2010.01701.x