Surface thermodynamic homeostasis of salivary conditioning films through polar-apolar layering

Henny C. van der Mei*, Don J. White, Jelly Atema-Smit, Gesinda I. Geertsema-Doornbusch, Henk J. Busscher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Salivary conditioning films (SCFs) form on all surfaces exposed to the oral cavity and control diverse oral surface phenomena. Oral chemotherapeutics and dietary components present perturbations to SCFs. Here we determine the surface energetics of SCFs through contact angle measurements with various liquids on SCFs following perturbations with a variety of chemotherapeutics as well as after renewed SCF formation. Sixteen-hour SCFs on polished enamel surfaces were treated with a variety of chemotherapeutics, including toothpastes and mouthrinses. After treatment with chemotherapeutics, a SCF was applied again for 3 h. Contact angles with four different liquids on untreated and treated SCF-coated enamel surfaces were measured and surface free energies were calculated. Perturbations either caused the SCF to become more polar or more apolar, but in all cases, renewed SCF formation compensated these changes. Thus, a polar SCF attracts different salivary proteins or adsorbs proteins in a different conformation to create a more apolar SCF surface after renewed SCF formation and vice versa for apolar SCFs. This polar-apolar layering in SCF formation presents a powerful mechanism in the oral cavity to maintain surface thermodynamic homeostasis-defining oral surface properties within a narrow, biological range and influencing chemotherapeutic strategies. Surface chemical changes brought about by dietary or chemotherapeutic perturbations to SCFs make it more polar or apolar, but new SCFs are rapidly formed compensating for changes in surface energetics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-115
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Oral Investigations
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb-2012


  • Salivary protein adsorption
  • Surface free energy
  • Acid-base interactions
  • Conditioning film formation
  • Contact angles
  • Oral microbiome

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