Scientific studies

An in vitro biofilm model of subgingival plaque

Scientific studies

Category: Oral Microbiology
Author: Walker C, Sedlacek MJ.
Published on: Oral Microbiol Immunol. 2007 Jun;22(3):152-61.


Numerous biofilm models have been described for the study of bacteria associated with the supragingival plaque. However, there are fewer models available for the study of subgingival plaque. The purpose of this study was to develop and validate a model that closely mimicked the composition of the subgingival flora.


The model was developed as follows: calcium hydroxyapatite disks were coated overnight with 10% sterile saliva, placed in flat-bottomed tissue culture plates containing trypticase-soy broth, directly inoculated with a small aliquot of dispersed subgingival plaque, incubated anaerobically, and transferred to fresh medium at 48-h intervals until climax (steady-state) biofilms were formed ( approximately 10 days).


The model, based on samples from eight periodontitis patients and eight healthy subjects, yielded a multi-species, heterogeneous biofilm, consisting of both gram-positive and gram-negative species, and comprising 15-20 cultivable species associated with the subgingival flora. The species present and their proportions were reflective of the initial cultivable subgingival flora. Comparisons of the initial plaque samples from healthy subjects and the mature biofilms showed 81% similarity in species and 70% similarity in the proportions present. Biofilms formed from samples obtained from periodontally diseased subjects were 69% similar in species and 57% similar in the proportions present.


The biofilm model described here closely reproduces the composition of the cultivable subgingival plaque both in the species present and in their relative proportions. Differences existed between biofilms grown from diseased and non-diseased sites with the former being characterized by the presence of periodontal pathogens at microbially significant levels.

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