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The dental plaque biofilm matrix

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Nicholas JakubovicsORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2020 The Authors. Periodontology 2000 published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. The extracellular matrix is a critical component of microbial biofilms, such as dental plaque, maintaining the spatial arrangement of cells and coordinating cellular functions throughout the structure. The extracellular polymeric substances that comprise the matrix include carbohydrates, nucleic acids, proteins, and lipids, which are frequently organized into macromolecular complexes and/or are associated with the surfaces of microbial cells within the biofilm. Cariogenic dental plaque is rich in glucan and fructan polysaccharides derived from extracellular microbial metabolism of dietary sucrose. By contrast, the matrix of subgingival dental plaque is a complex mixture of macromolecules that is still not well understood. Components of the matrix escape from microbial cells during lysis by active secretion or through the shedding of vesicles and serve to anchor microbial cells to the tooth surface. By maintaining the biofilm in close association with host tissues, the matrix facilitates interactions between microorganisms and the host. The outcome of these interactions may be the maintenance of health or the development of dental disease, such as caries or periodontitis. The matrix affords microbial cells protection against chemical and physical insults and hinders the eradication of pathogenic dental plaque. Therefore, strategies to control the matrix are critical to maintain oral health. This review discusses recent advances in our understanding of the composition, origins, and function of the dental plaque matrix, with a focus on subgingival dental plaque. New strategies to control subgingival dental plaque based on targeting the biofilm matrix are also considered.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Jakubovics NS, Goodman SD, Mashburn-Warren L, Stafford GP, Cieplik F

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Periodontology 2000

Year: 2021

Volume: 86

Issue: 1

Pages: 32-56

Print publication date: 01/06/2021

Online publication date: 10/03/2021

Acceptance date: 02/04/2018

Date deposited: 08/04/2021

ISSN (print): 0906-6713

ISSN (electronic): 1600-0757

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.


DOI: 10.1111/prd.12361


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Funder referenceFunder name
CI 263/1‐3
CI 263/3‐1
R01 DC011818
RPGF1810/101Dunhill Medical Trust