Affiliation: Department of Dentistry, Taishan Sanatorium of Shandong Province, Taian, Shandong Province, 271000, China.
Although dental caries is a global problem in modern times, no vaccines are available for preventing these diseases. Among the bacterial pathogens that cause dental caries, including Streptococcus mutans, S. sobrinus, and Lactobacillus acidophilus, and Actinomyces viscosus, S. mutans is the most prominent and prevalent species. During the past, much effort has been focused on developing vaccines against S. mutans. Early attempts used fixed whole cells of S. mutans, but later it was found that serological cross-reactivity between heart tissue antigens and Streptococcus antigens occurs in patients resulting in rheumatic fever. Recently, with the aid of molecular biology, the genome sequences of S. mutans strains are available, which can greatly accelerate the development of subunit vaccines. Many desirable candidate subunit vaccines have been or are going to be evaluated in either experimental animal models or in human clinical trials. In this review article, we summarized the updated progress made in deciphering the mechanisms of disease development and the achievements of vaccine research against S. mutans.