Oral microbiota of children in a school-based dental clinic

Jennifer A. Soncini, Eleni Kanasi, Shulin C. Lu, Martha E. Nunn, Michelle M. Henshaw, Anne C.R. Tanner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Objectives: Dental caries disproportionately affects disadvantaged subjects. This study hypothesized that there were greater caries extent and higher levels of caries-associated and anaerobic subgingival bacterial species in oral samples of Hispanic and immigrant children compared with non-Hispanic and US born children. Methods: Children from a school-based dental clinic serving a community with a large Hispanic component were examined, and the extent of caries was recorded. Microbial samples were taken from teeth and the tongues of children. Samples were analyzed using DNA probes to 18 oral bacterial species. Results: Seventy five children were examined. Extent of caries increased with child age in immigrant, but not in US born or Hispanic children. There were no differences in the microbiota based on ethnicity or whether the child was born in US or not. There was a higher species detection frequency from teeth than tongue samples. Levels of Streptococcus mutans and other Streptococcus spp increased with caries extent. Prevotella intermedia, Tannerella forsythia and Selenomonas spp were detected at low levels in these children. Conclusions: We conclude that, while there was a high rate of dental caries in disadvantaged school children, there were no differences in the caries-associated microbiota, including S. mutans, based on ethnicity or immigration status. Furthermore, while anaerobic subgingival, periodontal pathogens were also detected in children, there was no difference in species detection based on ethnicity or immigration status. Increased levels of streptococci, including S. mutans, however, were detected with high caries levels. This suggested that while it is beneficial to target preventive and treatment programs to disadvantaged populations, there is likely no additional benefit to focus on subgroups within a population already at high risk for dental disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)278-282
Number of pages5
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2010
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Infectious Diseases


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