Polymicrobial oral biofilm models: simplifying the complex

Jason L. Brown*, William Johnston, Christopher Delaney, Bryn Short, Mark C. Butcher, Tracy Young, John Butcher, Marcello Riggio, Shauna Culshaw, Gordon Ramage

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Over the past century, numerous studies have used oral biofilm models to investigate growth kinetics, biofilm formation, structure and composition, antimicrobial susceptibility and host–pathogen interactions. In vivo animal models provide useful models of some oral diseases; however, these are expensive and carry vast ethical implications. Oral biofilms grown or maintained in vitro offer a useful platform for certain studies and have the advantages of being inexpensive to establish and easy to reproduce and manipulate. In addition, a wide range of variables can be monitored and adjusted to mimic the dynamic environmental changes at different sites in the oral cavity, such as pH, temperature, salivary and gingival crevicular fluid flow rates, or microbial composition. This review provides a detailed insight for early-career oral science researchers into how the biofilm models used in oral research have progressed and improved over the years, their advantages and disadvantages, and how such systems have contributed to our current understanding of oral disease pathogenesis and aetiology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1573-1584
JournalJournal of Medical Microbiology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019


  • Biofilms
  • Dental plaque
  • Oral microbiology
  • Oral biofilm models
  • Host-pathogen interactions


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