The distribution and composition of the resident microflora were determined in approximal gingival margin plaque from 21 premolars extracted from schoolchildren (mean age 12.0 ± 1.8 yr). Indigo carmine (5% w/v) was used to visualize plaque to facilitate sampling. About 1 mm2 of plaque was removed from sites away from (A), to the side of (S), and below (B) the contact area. Plaque samples were dispersed, serially diluted, and cultured on selective and non-selective agar media. An average of seven to nine species was found at each subsite. Streptococcus and Actinomyces were subdivided on the basis of a range of biochemical tests. The predominant Actinomyces and streptococcal species at most subsites were A. naeslundii and Strep. mitis biovar I. A. naeslundii and A. odontolyticus were isolated more often at subsite B (90.5 and 57.1%, respectively), and A. israelii at subsite S (66.7%), Strep. mitis I and Strep. sanguis were found more frequently at subsite S (76.2 and 66.7%, respectively), whereas Strep, mutans, Strep. sobrinus, Strep. gordonii and Veillonella spp. were recovered most commonly from subsite B (85.7, 33.3, 38.1 and 76.2%, respectively). The isolation frequencies of Strep. mutans and Strep. sobrinus were significantly higher at subsite B (A < B, p < 0.01 and p < 0.05, respectively), Veillonella spp. were significantly higher at subsites B and S (A < B, p > 0.01; B > S, p < 0.05), while Neisseria spp. were most common at subsite A (A > B, p < 0.03). IgA1 protease-producing species were found at each subsite, but they formed only a small proportion of the total Streptococcus population. This study has shown that local variations were evident at different subsites, both with respect to species prevalence and to proportions of each species within each subsite. The population shifts in gingival margin plaque appear to relate to the location of plaque in relation to the most caries-prone site below the contact area B.
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Acknowledgements We thank Dr J. Bulman for his help with the statistical methods, and Professor M. Kilian for providing us human myeloma IgA. This research was supported by the U.K. Biscuit, Cake, Chocolate and Confectionery Alliance, and GABA International, Basel, Switzerland.
- approximal plaque
- defined subsites
- dental caries
- oral microbial ecology
- predominant microflora