Antibacterial Peptides: Opportunities for the Prevention and Treatment of Dental Caries

Probiotics and Antimicrobial Proteins 3(2):68-96. DOI: 10.1007/s12602-011-9076-5

ABSTRACT Dental caries is a multifactorial disease that is a growing and costly global health concern. The onset of disease is a consequence
of an ecological imbalance within the dental plaque biofilm that favors specific acidogenic and aciduric caries pathogens,
namely Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sobrinus. It is now recognized by the scientific and medical community that it is neither possible nor desirable to totally eliminate
dental plaque. Conversely, the chemical biocides most commonly used for caries prevention and treatment indiscriminately attack
all plaque microorganisms. These treatments also suffer from other drawbacks such as bad taste, irritability, and staining.
Furthermore, the public demand for safe and natural personal hygiene products continues to rise. Therefore, there are opportunities
that exist to develop new strategies for the treatment of this disease. As an alternative to conventional antibiotics, antibacterial
peptides have been explored greatly over the last three decades for many different therapeutic uses. There are currently tens
of hundreds of antibacterial peptides characterized across the evolutionary spectrum, and among these, many demonstrate physical
and/or biological properties that may be suitable for a more targeted approach to the selective control or elimination of
putative caries pathogens. Additionally, many peptides, such as nisin, are odorless, colorless, and tasteless and do not cause
irritation or staining. This review focuses on antibacterial peptides for their potential role in the treatment and prevention
of dental caries and suggests candidates that need to be explored further. Practical considerations for the development of
antibacterial peptides as oral treatments are also discussed.


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