Little information is available on the production of acids in dental plaque of known microbial composition. In the present experiment monocarboxylic and lactic acids were assayed in rat dental plaque before and after exposure to sucrose. Actinomyces viscosus Nyl and Streptococcus sanguis Ny101 were the major organisms in the plaque in two groups of rats. Streptococcus mutans T2 was inoculated in one group of the rats where it accounted for 20% of the total viable counts. Organic acids in the plaque were determined using isotachophoresis and adjusted to the size of the samples as determined by DNA. Formic, acetic, and lactic acids were found to be the predominant organic acids in the S. mutans and the control plaques. Sucrose administration was followed by a change to homolactic fermentation of the plaque in both groups. The lactic acid peak at 5 min after sucrose exposure was significantly higher in the S. mutans group than in the control group. More caries was found in the rats harboring S. mutans than in the other animals. The results suggest that rapid production of lactic acid following sucrose intake by the host is a main factor in the cariogenicity of S. mutans.

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