Functional changes in the oral microbiome after use of fluoride and arginine containing dentifrices: a metagenomic and metatranscriptomic study

Miguel Carda-Diéguez, Rebecca Moazzez, Alex Mira

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Tooth decay is one of the most prevalent diseases worldwide, and efficient tooth brushing with a fluoride-containing dentifrice is considered fundamental to caries prevention. Fluoride-containing dentifrices have been extensively studied in relation to enamel resistance to demineralization. Arginine (Arg) has also been proposed as a promising prebiotic to promote pH buffering through ammonia production. Here, we present the first metagenomic (DNA sequencing of the whole microbial community) and metatranscriptomic (RNAseq of the same community) analyses of human dental plaque to evaluate the effect of brushing with fluoride (Fl) and a Fl+Arg containing dentifrices on oral microbial composition and activity. Fifty-three patients were enrolled in a longitudinal clinical intervention study with two arms, including 26 caries-active and 27 caries-free adults. After a minimum 1-week washout period, dental plaque samples were collected at this post-washout baseline, 3 months after the use of a 1450-ppm fluoride dentifrice, and after 6 months of using a 1450-ppm fluoride with 1.5% arginine dentifrice. There was a shift in both the composition and activity of the plaque microbiome after 3 months of brushing with the fluoride-containing toothpaste compared to the samples collected at the 1-week post-washout period, both for caries-active and caries-free sites. Although several caries-associated bacteria were reduced, there was also an increase in several health- and periodontitis-associated bacteria. Over 400 genes changed proportion in the metagenome, and between 180 and 300 genes changed their expression level depending on whether caries-free or caries-active sites were analyzed. The metagenome and metatranscriptome also changed after the subjects brushed with the Fl+Arg dentifrice. There was a further decrease of both caries- and periodontitis-associated organisms. In both caries-free and caries-active sites, a decrease of genes from the arginine biosynthesis pathway was also observed, in addition to an increase in the expression of genes associated with the arginine deiminase pathway, which catabolizes arginine into ammonia, thereby buffering acidic pH. Bacterial richness and diversity were not affected by either of the two treatments in the two arms of the study. Our data demonstrate that long-term use of both assayed dentifrices changes the bacterial composition and functional profiles of human dental plaque towards a healthier microbial community, both in caries-free and caries-active sites. This observation was especially apparent for the Fl+Arg dentifrice. Thus, we conclude that the preventive benefits of tooth brushing go beyond the physical removal of dental plaque and that the active ingredients formulated within dentifrices have a positive effect not only on enamel chemistry but also on the metabolism of oral microbial populations. Video Abstract. [Abstract copyright: © 2022. The Author(s).]
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159
Issue number1
Early online date28 Sept 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Sept 2022


  • 16S rRNA
  • Ammonia
  • Fluorides - therapeutic use
  • Tooth Remineralization
  • Humans
  • Periodontitis
  • Bacteria - genetics
  • Oral microbiota
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Toothpastes
  • Phosphates - therapeutic use
  • Cariostatic Agents - therapeutic use
  • Metagenome - genetics
  • Arginine
  • Dental Caries - prevention & control
  • Fluoride
  • Metagenome
  • Metatranscriptome
  • Dentifrices - therapeutic use
  • Arginolytic route
  • Adult
  • Microbiota - genetics
  • Caries
  • Dental Plaque
  • Arginine - therapeutic use

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