Oral Biofilms: Pathogens, Matrix, and Polymicrobial Interactions in Microenvironments

William H. Bowen, Robert A. Burne, Hui Wu, Hyun Koo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

182 Scopus citations

Abstract

Biofilms are microbial communities embedded within an extracellular matrix, forming a highly organized structure that causes many human infections. Dental caries (tooth decay) is a polymicrobial biofilm disease driven by the diet and microbiota–matrix interactions that occur on a solid surface. Sugars fuel the emergence of pathogens, the assembly of the matrix, and the acidification of the biofilm microenvironment, promoting ecological changes and concerted multispecies efforts that are conducive to acid damage of the mineralized tooth tissue. Here, we discuss recent advances in the role of the biofilm matrix and interactions between opportunistic pathogens and commensals in the pathogenesis of dental caries. In addition, we highlight the importance of matrix-producing organisms in fostering a pathogenic habitat where interspecies competition and synergies occur to drive the disease process, which could have implications to other infections associated with polymicrobial biofilms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-242
Number of pages14
JournalTrends in microbiology
Volume26
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology

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