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Open Access Research article

A molecular survey of S. mutans and P. gingivalis oral microbial burden in human saliva using Relative Endpoint Polymerase Chain Reaction (RE-PCR) within the population of a Nevada dental school revealed disparities among minorities

Jay Ericksen Davis1, Nicholas Freel2, Allison Findley3, Keaton Tomlin3, Katherine M Howard3, Clifford C Seran1, Patricia Cruz4 and Karl Kingsley3*

Author Affiliations

1 Orthodontic Residency Program, School of Dental Medicine, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV, USA

2 Department of Biological Sciences, School of Life Sciences, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV, USA

3 Department of Biomedical Sciences, School of Dental Medicine, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 1001 Shadow Lane, Las Vegas, NV, 89106, USA

4 Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, School of Community Health Sciences, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV, USA

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BMC Oral Health 2012, 12:34  doi:10.1186/1472-6831-12-34

Published: 27 August 2012

Abstract

Background

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Dental Medicine recently opened an orthodontic treatment clinic to address the needs of the racially and ethnically diverse population of Southern Nevada, primarily focusing on the treatment and care of low-income and minority patients. Although orthodontic treatment and therapy has been shown to induce changes in the oral cavity, much of this evidence was collected from traditional White, teenage orthodontic clinic populations. The primary goal of this study was to describe the microbial burden of the cariogenic and periodontal pathogens, Streptococcus mutans and Porphyromonas gingivalis within the UNLV-SDM patient population.

Methods

Representative saliva samples were collected from healthy adult patients for DNA isolation. Relative endpoint polymerase chain reaction (RE-PCR) was performed to ascertain the presence and relative microbial burden of these oral pathogens.

Results

Nearly one quarter (13/56) or 23.3% of these patients had elevated levels of S. mutans, while (10/56) and 17.8% of these samples were found to have elevated levels of P. gingivalis, - with (90%) of P. gingivalis-positive samples from minority patients (X2 = 17.921, d.f. = 1; p < 0.0001).

Conclusions

These findings of elevated P. gingivalis levels, primarily among minority patients, may suggest underlying oral health practices contributing to adverse oral health conditions within this population. Oral health knowledge and practices among minority patients may be strongly influenced by other factors, including education and socioeconomic status, suggesting additional research may be needed to accurately determine the most appropriate standards for care and oral health education within this patient population.

Keywords:
Bacteria; Orthodontics; Streptococcus mutans; Porphyromonas gingivalis