"Right at home"


Streptococcus mutans is a nonmotile bacteria that is most concentrated in the crevices, pits, and fissures which are a normal part of human teeth.  S. mutans has adapted well to it's environment.  This bacteria utilizes sucrose to produce a sticky polysaccharide that permits them to cohere to one another forming plaque.  Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria which covers teeth.  The sucrose used to produce the sticky polysaccharide is obtained from food particles left in the human mouth after a meal.  S. mutans releases acids when these food particles are present.  The combination of plaque and this acid leads to the break down of tooth enamel*.  Repeated such attacks can cause the enamel to break down, thus resulting in dental decay or a dental cavity.

Found on          Found on          Found on         Found on
 There is a layer of                          Food + Bacteria = Acid                    The acid produced from                  After repeated attacks by
plaque on teeth which                                                                          the food and bacteria                    this acid, the tooth enamel
consists of bacteria.                                                                             attacks tooth enamel.                   breaks down resulting in
                                                                                                                                                           dental caries.  




Image from Medline Plus.

Tooth enamel is the outer layer of the tooth.  It is a thin, hard, translucent layer of calcified material that encompasses and shields the dentin.  Dentin is the main portion of tooth structure.  Enamel is the hardest and most mineralized substance of the human body.






 Questions or Comments? Contact Amber Allmann.