Oral Candida Predicts Streptococcus mutans Emergence in Underserved US Infants.J Dent Res. 2022 01; 101(1):54-62.JD
Despite the cariogenic role of Candida suggested from recent studies, oral Candida acquisition in children at high risk for early childhood caries (ECC) and its association with cariogenic bacteria Streptococcus mutans remain unclear. Although ECC disproportionately afflicts socioeconomically disadvantaged and racial-minority children, microbiological studies focusing on the underserved group are scarce. Our prospective cohort study examined the oral colonization of Candida and S. mutans among 101 infants exclusively from a low-income and racial-minority background in the first year of life. The Cox hazard proportional model was fitted to assess factors associated with the time to event of the emergence of oral Candida and S. mutans. Oral Candida colonization started as early as 1 wk among 13% of infants, increased to 40% by 2 mo, escalated to 48% by 6 mo, and remained the same level until 12 mo. S. mutans in saliva was detected among 20% infants by 12 mo. The emergence of S. mutans by year 1 was 3.5 times higher (hazard ratio [HR], 3.5; confidence interval [CI], 1.1-11.3) in infants who had early colonization of oral Candida compared to those who were free of oral Candida (P = 0.04) and 3 times higher (HR, 3.0; CI, 1.3-6.9) among infants whose mother had more than 3 decayed teeth (P = 0.01), even after adjusting demographics, feeding, mother's education, and employment status. Infants' salivary S. mutans abundance was positively correlated with infants' Candida albicans (P < 0.01) and Candida krusei levels (P < 0.05). Infants' oral colonization of C. albicans was positively associated with mother's oral C. albicans carriage and education (P < 0.01) but negatively associated with mother's employment status (P = 0.01). Future studies are warranted to examine whether oral Candida modulates the oral bacterial community as a whole to become cariogenic during the onset and progression of ECC, which could lead to developing novel ECC predictive and preventive strategies from a fungal perspective.