"Streptococcus mutans is a pain in the tooth!"

As previously discussed in the habitat section, Streptococcus mutans shares a mutualisitic relationship  with many other types of bacteria, fungi and protozoa.  Some of the other species of Streptococcus that S. mutans  shares its habitat  with include Streptococcus salivarius, Streptococcus sangius, Streptococcus mitis, Streptococcus fecali, and Streptococcus sorbrinus.  These bacteria can also initiate the breakdown of tooth enamel, but Streptococcus mutans is the only bacteria thus far to be the most efficient and consistent in the breakdown of tooth enamel leading to tooth decay or dental caries. 

Human Effects
Image found in Microsoft FrongPage clipart.Streptococcus mutans has a very large negative effect on humans.  It has a parasitic relationship with humans living in the oral cavity causing decay of teeth.  S. mutans metabolizes sucrose to produce polysaccharides that help them cohere to one another forming plaque.  The combination of this plaque and acids released by S. mutans leads to the breakdown of tooth enamel resulting in dental caries.  A dental cavity is a hole or holes in the outer two layers of a tooth, the enamel and the dentin.  This is very unfortunate for humans.  Dental caries are one of the most prevalent diseases of man.  This disease represents a major problem in the U.S. today.  Over two billion dollars are spent each year for treatment of this disease.  Once this disease is established it requires treatment.  This treatment entails visiting your dentist to get the cavity filled.  A cavity only grows larger and more expensive to repair the longer it remains untreated.  Dental caries are not only a burden to ones wallet but they are also painful.  The longer a cavity remains untreated not only the larger and more expensive it becomes, but it will also start to cause pain around the tooth or jaw.  The severity of this pain can range from constant and mild to sharp and excruciating.  Once a cavity is formed it is beneficial to visit a dentist to get the disease treated.  This will prevent it from growing larger and from causing pain.


                            Questions or Comments? Contact Amber Allmann.