Effect of nonionic and amphoteric surfactants on salivary pellicles reconstituted in vitro

Surfactants are important components of oral care products. Sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) is the most common because of its foaming properties, taste and low cost. However, the use of ionic surfactants, especially SDS, is related to several oral mucosa conditions. Thus, there is a high interest in using non-ionic and amphoteric surfactants as they are less irritant. To better understand the performance of these surfactants in oral care products, we investigated their interaction with salivary pellicles i.e., the proteinaceous films that cover surfaces exposed to saliva. Specifically, we focused on pentaethylene glycol monododecyl ether (C12E5) and cocamidopropyl betaine (CAPB) as model nonionic and amphoteric surfactants respectively, and investigated their interaction with reconstituted salivary pellicles with various surface techniques: Quartz Crystal Microbalance with Dissipation, Ellipsometry, Force Spectroscopy and Neutron Reflectometry. Both C12E5 and CAPB were gentler on pellicles than SDS, removing a lower amount.

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Fig: (a) QCM-D data (markers) and corresponding fits to the Voigt model using overtones 3rd, 5th, an 7th (solid lines) for a representative experiment where human whole saliva (HWS) was adsorbed on silica surfaces, rinsed with PBS buffer, exposed to C12E5 in PBS solution and finally rinsed with PBS buffer again. (b) Adsorbed mass calculated from fitting the data in (a) to the Voigt model. (c)QCM-D data (markers) and corresponding fits to the Voigt model using overtones 3rd, 5th, an 7th (solid lines) for a representative experiment where human whole saliva (HWS) was adsorbed on silica surfaces, rinsed with PBS buffer, exposed to a CAPB in PBS solution and finally rinsed with PBS buffer again. (d) Adsorbed mass calculated from fitting the data in (c) to the Voigt model.

However, their interaction with pellicles differed. Our work indicates that CAPB would mainly interact with the mucin components of pellicles, leading to collapse and dehydration. In contrast, exposure to C12E5 had a minimal effect on the pellicles, mainly resulting in the replacement/solubilisation of some of the components anchoring pellicles to their substrate.

Boyd, H., Gonzalez-Martinez, J.F., Welbourn, R.J.L. et al. Effect of nonionic and amphoteric surfactants on salivary pellicles reconstituted in vitro. Sci Rep 11, 12913 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-92505-4

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