This study aimed to identify differences of peptide profiles in stimulated whole saliva among children with and without occurrence of new carious lesions, and to provide a simple way for early diagnosis and prevention of the relapse of severe early childhood caries (s-ECC). Overall, 26 children aged 3-4 years were selected out from all the children in the kindergarten to be involved in the present study, among them 13 were diagnosed as s-ECC and underwent dental treatment, whilst the other 13 were matched by age and sex as control. Stimulated whole saliva samples were collected before treatment, and at 10 days and 4 months after treatment. During follow-up, 7 of the 13 children with s-ECC showed a relapse, and the new carious lesions were then treated. Salivary peptides were detected using the technique of magnetic beads combined with matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS). Fifteen peptides showed significant differences in the group without occurrence of new carious lesions (CH group). On comparing the CH group and the other group with occurrence of new carious lesions (CR group), no significant differences were observed before treatment, whereas certain peptides showed significant differences at both 10 days and 4 months after treatment. Two peptides (experimental m/z values: 3162.0 Da and 3290.4 Da) exhibited a consistent tendency in cross-sectional and longitudinal comparisons among these groups; these may be associated with recurrence of s-ECC. Based on our findings, it is concluded that different saliva peptide peaks can be detected in s-ECC using MALDI-TOF MS combined with magnetic beads. Moreover, 2 specific peptides with m/z values 3162.0 Da and 3290.4 Da could be promising salivary protein biomarkers for diagnosis of recurrence of s-ECC.
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