In order to study the effects of different glass ionomers on the metabolism of Streptococcus mutans, test slabs of freshly mixed conventional glass ionomer (Fuji), silver glass ionomer (Ketac-Silver), composite (Silux), and 2-week-old Fuji were fitted into the bottom of a test tube. A plaque-like layer of S. mutans strain Ingbritt was centrifuged onto the test slabs, and the samples were incubated for 20 h in 1.7% (w/v) sucrose solution. For freshly mixed Fuji and Ketac-Silver, the pH fall was significantly smaller than for old Fuji and composite. These materials also released the largest amount of fluoride into the fluid phase. Incubation with glass ionomer materials led to an increase in the cellular concentration of fluoride in bacteria, but intracellular fluoride did not correlate with the fall in pH. The lowest pH was associated with the lowest cellular magnesium content. Ketac-Silver released large amounts of calcium in the fluid phase, and the cellular calcium content was doubled in this group. The results show that freshly mixed glass ionomers affect acid production and electrolyte metabolism of S. mutans in vitro. The effect of conventional glass ionomer, however, seems to disappear after a few weeks. The effects of calcium and silver released by cermet glass ionomer deserve further study.

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