Objective: To examine the effects of cola-flavored beverages and caffeine on growth and metabolism of Streptococcus mutans biofilm. This study was designed to determine if carbonated beverages or caffeine can increase S. mutans growth and biofilm formation and metabolic activity in vitro, potentially leading to increased S. mutans-associated cariogenicity in children that consume them. Study Design: Six different cola-flavored products, plus pure caffeine, and pure high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), at different concentrations similar to those in the beverages were tested. A 16-hour culture of S. mutans was treated with different dilutions in bacteriological media. To test for the effect on biofilm formation, the biofilm was stained with crystal violet. The absorbance was determined to evaluate biofilm growth. Biofilm metabolic activity was measured based on biofilm having the ability to reduce XTT to a water-soluble orange compound. Results: The inclusion of HFCS in the beverages, as well as pure HFCS, significantly enhanced bacterial biofilm formation and metabolic activity. Pure caffeine and the presence of caffeine in beverages did not significantly increase biofilm formation, but pure caffeine significantly increased metabolism, and Diet Coke had significantly greater metabolic activity than Caffeine-Free Diet Coke. Conclusions: HFCS increases both the biofilm formation and metabolism of S. mutans, and caffeine in some cases increases metabolism of S. mutans.

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