Calcium-phosphate-osteopontin particles for caries control

Caries is caused by acid production in biofilms on dental surfaces. Preventing caries therefore involves control of microorganisms and/or the acid produced. Here, calcium-phosphate-osteopontin particles are presented as a new approach to caries control. The particles are made by co-precipitation and designed to bind to bacteria in biofilms, impede biofilm build-up without killing the microflora, and release phosphate ions to buffer bacterial acid production if the pH decreases below 6. Analysis of biofilm formation and pH in a five-species biofilm model for dental caries showed that treatment with particles or pure osteopontin led to less biofilm formation compared to untreated controls or biofilms treated with osteopontin-free particles. The anti-biofilm effect can thus be ascribed to osteopontin. The particles also led to a slower acidification of the biofilm after exposure to glucose, and the pH always remained above 5.5. Hence, calcium-phosphate-osteopontin particles show potential for applications in caries control.