Interpretation of the proposed actions of fluoride on oral bacteria demands some knowledge of the species as well as the strains of organisms that bind fluoride, the quantity of fluoride attached to these bacteria and the conditions under which such binding occurs. A sensitive Ge(Li) γ-ray spectrometer was used to measure the levels of l8F bound by oral bacteria and to check the radiochemical purity of 18F. Resting cells of Streptococccus mutans LM7 and Staphyiococcus aureus were the most active organisms with regard to 18F binding. They yielded p values of < 0.01 when compared with Rothia dentocariosa, Lactobacillus casei, Actinomyces odontolyticus or Actinomyces naeslundii and p values of < 0.05 when contrasted against Streptococcus mitis, Streptococcus sali-varius, Streptococcus sanguis, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Actinomyces viscosus, or Fuso-bacterium nucleatum. With the exception of L. casei and F. nucleatum, the binding of 18F by growing and resting cells of the assay bacteria did not vary significantly (p > 0.05). Fluoride-sensitive and resistant cells of S. mutans 6715 and S. salivarius did not differ with respect to the amounts of 18F that they attracted. Similarly no definitive differences in 18F binding were detected in various serotypes of S. mutans. The binding of 18F by the assay bacteria could be saturated, did not require addition of an energy source, occurred equally well at 4–37 °C aerobically or anaerobically and in the presence of 500 μM sodium azide, sodium arsenate, 2,4-dinitrophenol, or N, Nʹ-dicyclohexylcarbodiimide. The establishment of fluoride deposits in oral bacteria suggests a possible exchange of fluoride among these microorganisms or tooth enamel which may influence dental caries.

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