This study assessed whether the persistence of Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938 and ATCC PTA 5289 in saliva could delay the regrowth of mutans streptococci (MS) after a full-mouth disinfection with chlorhexidine (CHX). A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study with a 6-week intervention period and 3- and 6-month follow-up was performed. 62 healthy subjects with moderate to high counts of MS were randomly assigned to a test group (n = 32) or a placebo group (n = 30). Before onset of the intervention, subjects received two sessions of professional cleaning, flossing, and application of CHX varnish and rinsed their mouth with a CHX solution between the sessions (2 days). Thereafter, the test group used probiotic lozenges (2/day) containing L. reuteri (DSM 17938 and ATCC PTA 5289; 1 × 108 CFU of each strain), and the placebo group used identical lozenges lacking the lactobacilli. Saliva samples were collected and cultured onto selective media, and isolates of L. reuteri as well as DNA directly extracted from saliva were tested by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) with specific primers. Presence of salivary MS was analysed with a chair-side test. L. reuteri was frequently detected by culture during the intervention period but in only 3 test group subjects at follow-ups. Regrowth of MS statistically significantly differed depending on the presence or absence of L. reuteri DSM 17938 detected by PCR. We conclude that cultivable L. reuteri strains may only sporadically be confirmed after termination of the intervention, but subjects with PCR-detected L. reuteri demonstrated slower regrowth of MS.

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