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Keywords:

  • elderly;
  • periodontal status;
  • attachment loss;
  • root caries;
  • mutans streptococci;
  • lactobacilli

Objective:  The relationship of the levels of cariogenic bacterial species with periodontal status and decayed root surfaces was investigated in elderly Japanese subjects.

Methods:  Three hundred and sixty-eight individuals (each 75 years old) were examined for periodontal status (pocket depth, attachment loss), root surface caries and salivary levels of mutans streptococci (MS) and lactobacilli (LB).

Results:  Values >4 mm of attachment loss (rAL4) and for average attachment loss (aAL) of sites measured were significantly higher in subjects with LB than those without. Multiple regression analysis also showed a correlation between aAL and rAL4 values with the presence of LB (aAL p = 0.003; rAL4 p = 0.002). Further, multiple regression analysis of interacting factors regarding decayed root surfaces showed that LB carriers had a greater incidence of decayed root surface caries (p = 0.003), while MS and LB levels were correlated to the number of decayed root surfaces (LB p = 0.010; MS p = 0.026).

Conclusion:  Our results indicate that considerable attachment loss elevates the possibility of having LB, thus increasing the risk of root surface caries. It was also found that LB and MS measurements may be useful indicators of decayed root surfaces in elderly individuals with attachment loss.