Clinical Oral Investigations

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 203–208 | Cite as

Effect of food preservatives on in situ biofilm formation

  • Nicole Birgit Arweiler
  • Ronaldo Lenz
  • Anton Sculean
  • Ali Al-Ahmad
  • Elmar Hellwig
  • Thorsten Mathias Auschill
Original Article


The aim of this double-blind, controlled crossover study was to evaluate the influence of food preservatives on in situ dental biofilm growth. Twenty-four volunteers wore appliances with six specimens each of bovine enamel to build up intra-oral biofilms. During three test cycles, the subjects had to put one half of the appliance twice a day in one of the assigned active solutions (0.1% benzoate, BA; 0.1% sorbate, SA or 0.2% chlorhexidine, CHX) and the other into NaCl. After 5 days, the developed biofilms were stained with two fluorescent dyes to visualise vital (green) and dead bacteria (red). Biofilms were scanned by confocal laser scanning microscopy and biofilm thickness (BT) and bacterial vitality (BV%) were calculated. After a washout period of 7 days, a new test cycle was started. The use of SA, BA and CHX resulted in a significantly reduced BT and BV compared to NaCl (p < 0.001). Differences between SA and BA were not significant (p > 0.05) for both parameters, while CHX showed significantly lower values. Both preservatives showed antibacterial and plaque-inhibiting properties, but not to the extent of CHX. The biofilm model enabled the examination of undisturbed oral biofilm formation influenced by antibacterial components under clinical conditions.


Biofilm Plaque vitality Confocal laser scanning microscopy 



This investigation was financially supported by a grant from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG; Ar 341/3-1). The authors thank Marie Follo, Ph.D., Department of Hematology and Oncology, Core facility, University of Freiburg for her help in the image analysis and preparing the manuscript.

Declaration of Interests

There are no conflicts of interest for any author.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicole Birgit Arweiler
    • 1
    • 3
  • Ronaldo Lenz
    • 1
  • Anton Sculean
    • 2
  • Ali Al-Ahmad
    • 1
  • Elmar Hellwig
    • 1
  • Thorsten Mathias Auschill
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Operative Dentistry and Periodontology, Dental School and HospitalUniversity Medical CenterFreiburgGermany
  2. 2.Department of PeriodontologyRadboud University Medical CenterNijmegenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of Operative Dentistry and Periodontology, Dental School and HospitalAlbert-Ludwigs-UniversityFreiburgGermany

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