Oral microbiology – University of Copenhagen

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Oral microbiology

The Danish National Institute of Public Health has implemented the population study “Danish Health Examination Survey with Focus on Lifestyle and General Health”. To this study is linked an odontological examination called The Oral Health Study.

The main purposes of this study are: 1) to survey on incidence of dental diseases and oral health habits in a Danish adult population and 2) to analyze the association between oral health, in particular the dental biofilm-related diseases caries and periodontitis, and general health, including effects of lifestyle and medication. Important lifestyle factors are: nutrition, alcohol consumption, smoking, and exercise. Saliva samples are subjected to microarray-based identification of the oral bacterial species. The bacterial species profiles are related to dental diseases and the lifestyle factors. 

One of the most important characteristics of biofilms is that the bacteria in these sessile microbial communities display a remarkable increased tolerance to antimicrobial attack. Because of their innate resistance to host immune systems, antibiotics, and biocides, biofilms are difficult, if not impossible, to eradicate. Biofilm formation therefore leads to various persistent infections in humans and animals.

Because the use of conventional antimicrobial compounds in many cases cannot eradicate biofilms, there is an urgent need to develop new ways to prevent biofilm formation or to remove existing biofilm. We have initiated a research project aimed at obtaining knowledge about the molecular mechanisms which underlay tolerance to antimicrobial agents in oral biofilms. Such knowledge is necessary in order to develop compounds which can interfere with tolerance development, and thus make the biofilms susceptible to conventional antimicrobial compounds.

Projects focussed on these issues are currently funded by Tandlægefonden.

Contact persons:

Nils-Erik Fiehn, e-mail: nef@sund.ku.dk and Tim Tolker-Nielsen, e-mail: ttn@sund.ku.dk