Purpose: The objective of the present in situ study was to evaluate the influence of dental plaque on human enamel erosion. Materials and Methods: Thirteen volunteers wore acrylic palatal devices with four enamel specimens that were prepared from freshly extracted impacted human third permanent molars (4 x 4 mm), randomly selected and distributed into two vertical rows, corresponding to the following groups: GI, erosion of dental plaque-free samples, and GII, erosion of dental plaque-covered samples. For the formation of dental plaque, the specimens were placed 1 mm below the level of the appliance and covered with a plastic mesh to allow the accumulation of dental plaque. The palatal device was continuously worn by the volunteers for 14 consecutive days and then immersed in a soft drink (Coca-Cola, 150 ml) for 5 min, three times a day. Half of the surfaces of specimens were coated with nail varnish for profilometry tests. The study variables included the depth of enamel surface wear (profilometer, vertical ranges in lm) and the percentage of superficial microhardness change (%SMHC). Data were analysed using the t test (P < 0.05). Results: The %SMHC and depth of enamel surface wear were significantly higher for GI (-87.82% ± 3.66 and 4.70 lm ± 1.65) than for GII (-13.79% ± 4.22 and 0.14 lm ± 0.03). Conclusions: It was concluded that the dental plaque formed in situ was able to protect the enamel surface against erosion by a cola soft drink, thus reducing the depth of enamel surface wear and the %SMHC.
Keywords: dental erosion, dental plaque, dental wear, enamel, soft drinks