Oral conditions

Dental biofilm

We can define dental biofilm as a group of microorganisms that surround themselves with a complex biopolymeric matrix, composed mainly of proteins, polysaccharides and genetic material, which allows them to adhere to different surfaces.composed mainly of proteins, polysaccharides and genetic material, which allows them to adhere to different surfaces.

Research over the years has shown that many microbial species, especially bacteria, tend to organize themselves in the form of biofilms to increase their resistance to antibacterial agents. especially bacteria, tend to organize themselves in the form of biofilms in order to increase their resistance to antibacterial agents and thus ensure their survival.

Dental biofilm plays a key role as a precursor of the two main oral diseases. Understanding its structure and biology is fundamental to understanding the etiopathogenic processes underlying dental caries and periodontal disease.

Where does the biofilm form?

The formation of these biofilms is possible in many areas of the body and, when it occurs, it is capable of favor the birth and growth of different microorganisms, especially bacterial colonies that can cause infection.. The biofilm, also known as biofilm or microfoulingrepresents a kind of a kind of protective shield for microorganisms.

How is it produced?

Even in good health, it is normal to find a diversity of microorganisms in the mouth. These can be in free form, moving independently, or deposited on the different oral structures, where it is common to find them in the form of colonies.

The process of dental biofilm formation, therefore, begins spontaneously, begins spontaneously.

The stages of dental biofilm formation are:

  • AdhesionAdhesion: microorganisms reach a surface and bind to it thanks to the acquired or salivary film. This glycoprotein film covers all the oral structures and moisturizes and protects the tissues., but it also serves as a substrate for the attachment of microorganisms.
  • ColonizationOrganization of microorganisms according to their species in colonies. Formation of the biofilm by generation of a matrix of extracellular substances that they themselves produce.
  • Growthincrease in number and species of microorganisms in the biofilm. In order to survive, the colonies organize themselves to allow the passage of water and nutrients.
  • DispersionOnce the structure is well established and organized, parts of the biofilm become detached and adhere to other surfaces.

The species of microorganism that gives rise to dental biofilm and the type of surface to which it adheres determine the pathogenicity, speed and degree of resistance of the biofilm to antimicrobial agents. determine the pathogenicity, speed and degree of resistance of the biofilm to antimicrobial agents..

Dental biofilm or bacterial plaque: prevention, consequences and treatment

Also known as dental patina and, more commonly, as bacterial plaque, dental biofilm dental biofilm has the same characteristics as microbial biofilms that form elsewhere in the body, where they are capable of promoting the onset of specific and very serious diseases. For this reason, it is important to prevent the formation of dental biofilm or to intervene professionally to remove it.


Our mouth is an environment rich in microorganisms, including bacterial ones, which tend to organize themselves into colonies to ensure better survival. Dental plaque is one of the most common examples of biofilms.In fact, its formation follows the process of microbial biofilm creation that takes place in other parts of the body:

  1. Hydrophobic substances and macromolecules are attracted to and adhere to teeth or dentures.. In this first phase, the film, consisting of proteins and salivary substances, is thin and therefore easy to remove by brushing, as it is still free of bacteria.
  2. The free energy of the surface of this biofilm and the electrical charge of the surface of teeth and dentures undergo changes that favor bacterial adhesion. undergo changes that favor bacterial adhesion.
  3. Bacteria that are well adhered increase their metabolic activity, producing more toxins that will eventually damage oral health.
  4. Bacteria reproducethus increasing the size and resistance of the biofilm.
  5. Bacteria from the deep layers, well protected by the upper layers, attack periodontal tissues, attack the periodontal tissues.

Dental biofilm is not always clearly visible to the naked eye; it tends to form mainly in the interdental spaces and near the gum, i.e. in the most difficult to clean spaces.i.e. in the spaces that are most difficult to clean. The extent of the damage it can cause is not obvious at first glance, but, as we are going to see, the pathologies associated with it are very important.

Dental biofilm formation: prevention and consequences

Unfortunately, the process of dental biofilm formation is very rapid and, if it is not interrupted at an early stage and, if it is not interrupted at an early stage by maintaining proper oral and professional hygiene, it soon becomes responsible for the most common oral diseases, soon becomes responsible for the most common oral diseases.. Brushing your teeth properly, with the right toothbrush and toothpaste and with the right frequency, flossing and, if necessary, using the right mouthwashes, together with the right frequency of toothbrushing and toothpaste.together with the correct frequency of professional oral hygiene reminders, are the only preventive tools that can counteract the formation of dental biofilm, which is always lurking.

Understanding the importance of these actions is not difficult, if you think that plaque is the main responsible for the chronic infections that lead to three of the most important dental diseases:

  • Cariesif the biofilm includes bacteria capable of converting sugars into acids, tooth enamel is eroded, leading to caries.
  • GingivitisGingivitis is another chronic infection caused by bacteria capable of attacking the tissues that support the tooth.
  • PeriodontitisPeriodontitis: is the evolution of untreated gingivitis, which can be resolved and kept under constant control. The evolution of this pathology, however, is based on plaque and its consequences can also include, in extreme cases, the loss of the affected tooth.

More information and references

Oral health guide
Help guide

Oral health guide


Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, as long as it is in the early stages where proper oral hygiene allows its elimination. Once mineralized and converted into dental tartar, self-management methods should be avoided. The only way to remove dental tartar is to contact oral care specialists.

All foods rich in sugar, such as candies, cakes, sweets and ice cream; foods containing refined carbohydrates, such as pasta and bread with white flour; alcoholic and sugary beverages.

In early stages of its formation the dental plaque itself is not visible. Later it may appear as a uniform yellow or dark white accumulation on the tooth enamel.

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