Corrosion of titanium is the major concern when it is used for dental treatment. This study aimed to investigate the mechanism of the microbiologically induced corrosive properties of titanium. An experimental well was made of polymethyl methacrylate with pure titanium at the bottom. Viable or killed cells of Streptococcus mutans were packed into the well, and pH at the bacteria-titanium interface was monitored with and without glucose. Before and after 90-minute incubation, the electrochemical behavior on the titanium surface was measured by means of a potentiostat. The oxygen concentration under bacterial cells was monitored with oxygen-sensitive fluorescent film. The amount of titanium eluted was measured by inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry. The corrosion current and passive current under killed cells were low and stable during 90 min, while those under viable cells increased, regardless of the glucose-induced pH fall. The polarization resistance and oxygen concentration under killed cells were high and stable, while those under viable cells decreased. No elution of titanium was detected. Viable bacterial cells may form 'oxygen concentration cells' through metabolism-coupled oxygen consumption and subsequently induce corrosive properties of the titanium surface.
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