Potential of calcium to scaffold an endodontic biofilm, thus protecting the micro-organisms from disinfection

S.V. van der Waal, L.W.M. van der Sluis

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Biofilms in the root canal of a tooth (endodontic biofilm) can induce and sustain apical periodontitis which is an oral inflammatory disease. Still, little is known about the composition of the endodontic biofilm. Studies on biofilms in root canals focus on the identification of the microbial species, but the majority of the biofilm consists of matrix material. Environmental aspects determine the structure of the biofilm and extracellular matrix.

Calcium is involved in biofilm formation and activity at three levels. Firstly in cell-environment; calcium may ‘condition’ the surfaces of support and bacterial cells. Secondly, in cell-cell interaction; calcium plays a role in build up of biofilm structures. Typically, calcium ions act as ‘cation bridges’ between polysaccharides originating from different cells. Thirdly, within cells, calcium is required for certain biochemical reactions in bacteria and some bacterial physiological activities. Because calcium is present in the root canal, it could play a significant role in the organization of the biofilm.

Chelators, already used in endodontics to remove the smear layer by disintegration of the structural cohesion calcium bonds, could weaken the biofilm matrix by removing calcium from the extracellular matrix thus disturbing its coherence. Subsequently, this disruption could increase the efficacy of disinfecting agents.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-4
JournalMedical Hypotheses
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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