The intra-oral enamel demineralization test (IEDT) was introduced by Brudevold et al. (1984). This caries model involves human subjects wearing palatal appliances each holding eight bovine enamel blocks covered by a bacterial cell layer prepared by the harvesting of cultures of Streptococcus mutans (test plaque). The original model used the iodide permeability test for assessment of the extent of demineralization of bovine enamel blocks resulting from acid production by the test plaque after dietary substrate challenge. The IEDT model has been expanded and improved by us in the following ways: (1) Based on encouraging findings from an in vitro study (Zero et al., 1990), the surface microhardness test has been adopted to measure the extent of demineralization occurring at three sites on the enamel blocks corresponding to an area over which the effective plaque thickness is 0.5, 1.5, and 2.5 mm; (2) intra-oral pH of the test plaque is measured by means of a Beetrode miniature pH electrode at baseline, then at five, 10, 15, 30, and 45 min after the start of a test; (3) plaque samples are collected at the end of a test and analyzed for organic acid content by means of HPLC; (4) the bacterial test challenge has been expanded to include different cariogenic bacteria which are grown under various growth conditions. The improved model has the capability of studying fundamental aspects of the caries process, namely, the relationships among dietary substrate challenge, plaque pH change, plaque organic acid profiles, microbial virulence properties, and enamel demineralization. Furthermore, the model has the potential for use in more applied research on caries-preventive agents such as fluoride.
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