Available information about dispersed biofilm bacterial cells is sparse and fragmented. However, the body of knowledge existing has shown that dispersed bacterial cells have unique properties compared to planktonic or biofilm counterparts. The objective of this paper is to provide an overview about bacteria in the oral biofilm, with a focus on the dispersion phase. Data collection was implemented by searching PubMed database electronically with the principal keywords biofilm, oral bacteria, dispersion, dispersal phase. Language was restricted to English. Only peer reviewed, in vitro or/ in vivo original studies and reviews were included. Conference papers and abstracts were excluded. The review part of this paper provides a synopsis of the oral bacteria, the stages of biofilm formation and its dissemination. Then, it examines in more detail the available information about the dispersion phase of bacterial biofilm. In the last part of this paper, we provide information from one of our preliminary studies on the effect of different concentrations of nicotine, adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and cis-2 decenoic acid (CDA) on Streptococcus mutans (S. mutans) biofilm dispersion. Published reports indicate that dispersed bacteria of several different species have altered adherence or virulence features compared to either planktonic or biofilm cells. Our studies demonstrated that nicotine concentrations of 16 mg/ml induced significantly higher dispersion than the control and the other experimental groups, in both S. mutans UA159 and UAB4 strains. In conclusion, it is still too early to draw a definite conclusion at this point of testing. However, our initial findings demonstrate that the dispersion phase is different in these two strains and the dispersion phase is affected by the presence or absence of the following compounds: nicotine, CDA, and ATP. More studies on the dispersion phase of bacterial biofilm are needed to further elucidate the clinical consequences of biofilm dispersal together with potential therapeutic applications.
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