Funding awarded to study biofilms on teeth

Gum disease is one of many oral diseases caused by biofilms

How well oral health products protect teeth and gums is to be examined by a University of Portsmouth researcher.

Dr Marta Roldo, an expert in drug delivery and novel biomaterials in the University’s School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, was awarded £22,000 to put oral biolfilms under the spotlight.

Dr Roldo said: “We’ve all heard of plaque but what many might not know is plaque is a biolfilm, and it’s this which is the main cause of most oral disease.”

Biofilms survive in many environments, including pipelines, rock pools, on ships’ hulls, in air conditioning systems, and in our bodies. Most infectious diseases are a result of biofilms and, in industry, biofilms cause the loss of billions of dollars a year.

“Oral biofilms are complex microbial communities which include bacteria, fungi, viruses and ultra-small organisms in extracellular polymeric substances attached to the surface of teeth and gums,” she said.

“They are highly organised in structure and lead to many oral diseases, including tooth decay and gum disease.”

Oral biofilms rely on interactions between microorganisms, their host and the host’s diet.

Dr Roldo’s research, with research student Srinivas Kore, will focus on visualisation of oral bio-films using X-ray micro tomography and other techniques.

The aim is to develop a suitable bio-film model on various substrates that can be visualised and tested against different oral health care products. The research is funded by GlaxoSmithKline.

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