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Porphyromonas gingivalis biofilms persist after chlorhexidine treatment



Chlorhexidine (CHX) gluconate effectively reduces the viability of biofilm-forming bacteria, such as Porphyromonas gingivalis. However, it is impossible to completely remove biofilms. The goal of the present study was to assess the potential pathogenicity of residual P. gingivalis biofilms in vitro after treatment with CHX gluconate. Scanning and transmission electron microscopy and confocal laser imaging revealed that treatment with CHX gluconate disrupted individual biofilm-forming P. gingivalis cells but did not destroy the biofilms. The volumes of the protein and carbohydrate constituents in the residual biofilms were not significantly different from those of the controls. The physical resistance of the residual biofilms to ultrasonication was significantly higher than that of controls. The volume of P. gingivalis adherent to the residual biofilms was higher than that to saliva-coated wells. These findings suggest that although CHX gluconate caused disruption of biofilm-forming cells, the constituents derived from disrupted cells were maintained in the biofilms, which sustained their external structures. Moreover, the residual biofilms could serve as a scaffold for the formation of new biofilms.