Biofilm Over Teeth and Restorations, What Do We Need to Know?
Nancy J. Lin
Objectives The goal of this paper is to provide an overview of biofilms and biofilm measurements in the context of studying biofilms on tooth and dental material surfaces to improve oral health. Methods A historical perspective and terminology is presented, followed by a description of the complexity of oral biofilms and their unique features. Then, a holistic approach to grouping measurable biofilm properties is presented and considered in relation to biofilm-material interactions and material-based strategies to alter biofilms. Finally, the need for measurement assurance in biofilm research is discussed. Results Biofilms are highly heterogeneous communities that are challenging to measure. Their properties can be separated into the broad categories of constituents (identity), quantity, structure, and function, and can be measured over time and in response to substrates and external stimuli. Selecting appropriate measurements for a given application will depend on the question being asked and, in the case of antimicrobial approaches, the expected mechanism of the approach. To provide measurement assurance, community accepted protocols and minimum required information to include as metadata with experiments should be developed and applied. Consensus standards would help to demonstrate product claims regarding biofilm-related activity. Conclusions Understanding oral biofilms and their interactions with tooth and dental material surfaces holds great promise for enabling improvements in oral and overall human health. Both substrate and biofilm properties should be considered to develop a more thorough understanding of the system.