Screening of Dental Plaque for Presence of Streptococcus Mutans Bacteriophages

Nazish Munir Mohamedhussein, Jennie Foley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The aetiology of dental caries is multifactorial and all contributing factors have been studied extensively.
Streptococcus mutans (S. mutans) has been implicated as a primary odontopathogen and is an important target in caries
prevention and management. Bacteriophage therapy is an antibacterial therapy that has garnered interest in human and
veterinary medicine due to its numerous advantages. Bacteriophages are more numerous than bacteria and are highly
specific and may be used to target S. mutans without disturbing the remaining oral flora. Aim: The purpose of this study
was to isolate S. mutans from dental plaque and to attempt to isolate S. mutans-specific bacteriophages from the same
material. Methodology: Plaque samples were obtained from patients using sterile swabs with transport medium. Samples
were serially diluted and plated on TYCSB selective media. Suspect colonies (based on morphological appearance) were
subjected to biochemical tests (catalase test and Gram staining). The presumptive identity of isolated bacterial colonies as
S. mutans was confirmed molecularly (PCR, followed by electrophoresis). A filtrate prepared from dental plaque samples
was used in spot assays against the S. mutans isolates to screen for presence of bacteriophages having lytic activity
against them. Results: Seven isolates of S. mutans were obtained and a single bacteriophage having lytic activity against
one of these isolates was recovered from the dental plaque filtrate; host-range studies indicated that the bacteriophage had
a narrow range of activity (within the samples tested). Conclusion: This study has indicated that it is possible to isolate
bacteriophages specific to S. mutans from the oral cavity. Further work is required to prepare an effective mix of
bacteriophages that are suitable for targeting cariogenic bacteria within a plaque biofilm and potentially, these
bacteriophages could be incorporated into future caries-management programmes.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSaudi Journal of Oral and Dental Research
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jan 2020


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