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Presence and antibiotic resistance of Porphyromonas gingivalis, Prevotella intermedia, and Prevotella nigrescens in children.

BACKGROUND/AIMS: Only limited information exists about the prevalence in children of pathogens associated with periodontitis. The aim of the present study was to determine by culture whether 8-11-year-old children carry Porphyromonas gingivalis, Prevotella intermedia, and/or P. nigrescens in samples from the gingiva and/or the buccal mucosa taken before, and after caries treatment and oral hygiene instruction. A second aim was to assess the proportion of subjects who had gram-negative anaerobes carrying the tet(Q) and erm(F) genes, suggesting antibiotic resistance to tetracycline or erythromycin.

METHOD: A total of 150 children provided gingival and buccal swab bacterial samples that were cultured for P. gingivalis, P. intermedia, and P. nigrescens. The species was verified using DNA-DNA hybridization with species-specific probes made from the variable region of the 16S rRNA sequences. Antibiotic-resistant genes, tet(Q) and erm(F), were identified using specific DNA-DNA hybridization with specific DNA probes.

RESULTS: A total of 116 isolates of black-pigmented bacteria were cultured from 47 (31%) of 150 children. Five isolates were identified as P. gingivalis, 29 as P. intermedia, 33 as P. nigrescens, and 49 as other species. In general, the bacteria were not culturable at more than one time period. We found that 55% of these 47 children harbored black pigmented bacteria that carried either one or both of the two antibiotic-resistant genes studied (tet(Q), and erm(F)).

CONCLUSION: The present study demonstrated that children not exposed to regular dental treatment carry bacteria outside the gingival sulcus that have been associated with periodontitis, and that standard treatment procedures may not clear the presence of the putative pathogens. In addition, antibiotic-resistant genes are common in identifiable gram-negative anaerobes, including putative pathogens.

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