Objectives: The relation between the presence of red fluorescent plaque and the caries status in children was studied. In addition, the microbial composition of dental plaque from sites with red fluorescent plaque (RFP) and from sites with no red fluorescent plaque (NFP) was assessed.
Methods: Fluorescence photographs were taken from fifty children (6–14 years old) with overnight plaque. Full-mouth caries scores (ICDAS II) were obtained. The composition of a saliva sample and two plaque samples (RFP and NFP) was assessed using 16S rDNA sequencing.
Results: At the site level, no clinically relevant correlations were found between the presence of RFP and the caries status. At the subject level, a weak correlation was found between RFP and the caries status when non-cavitated lesions were included (rs = 0.37, p = 0.007). The microbial composition of RFP differed significantly from NFP. RFP had more anaerobes and more Gram-negative bacterial taxa. The most discriminative operational taxonomic units (OTUs) for RFP were Corynebacterium, Leptotrichia, Porphyromonas and Selenomonas, while the most discriminative OTUs for NFP were Neisseria, Actinomyces, Streptococcus and Rothia.
Conclusions: There were no clinical relevant correlations in this cross-sectional study between the presence of RFP and (early) caries lesions. There were differences in the composition of these phenotypically different plaque samples: RFP contained more Gram-negative, anaerobic taxa and was more diverse than NFP.