Organic acids in caries lesions play important roles in initiation and progress of dental caries. We investigated relationships between clinical types of dentin caries and acid profile or pH in the lesions. Caries lesions in dentin from 76 permanent teeth were classified into active, arrested, situated beneath a restoration, and unclassified types. The pH of carious dentin was distinctly lower than that of sound dentin (p < 0.001). Carious dentin with a high percentage of lactate had a lower pH than that with a high percentage of acetate and propionate (p < 0.001). Dentin from active lesions showed a mean pH of 4.9, and the dominant acid was lactate (mean percentage, 88.2). In contrast, carious dentin from arrested lesions showed a higher pH, 5.7, with acetate and propionate as the dominant acids (mean percentages of acetate and propionate, 64.0 and 18.2, respectively). The acid profile (mean percentages of acetate and propionate, 54.0 and 27.7, respectively) and pH (mean 5.8) of carious dentin sampled from lesions beneath a restoration were similar to those of dentin from arrested lesions. This study showed a clear relationship between clinical classification of dentin caries and acid profile and pH, suggesting that both factors are important in dentin caries etiology.
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