Bacteria That Cause Cavities

Bacteria & Microbes around ToothWhich Bacteria Causes Cavities?

Looking Inside Your Mouth

You probably know that bacteria in your mouth cause cavities, plaque, and tooth decay. And you also probably know that proper at-home care such as brushing and flossing is the best way to prevent cavities and more serious problems. (Combine with regular dental check-ups and professional cleanings for best results!)

However, most species of bacteria are relatively harmless to our oral health; just one or two strains cause cavities and tooth decay. They are called Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sobrinus. Although they include the phrase “strep” in their name, these are not the same bacteria that cause strep throat. (They simply belong to the same family.) Instead of triggering a physical ailment with an immune response, S. mutans and S. sobrinus thrive on sugar (sucrose) in our diet. They ingest this sugar and produce acid. This acid creates a sticky film called plaque, dissolves tooth enamel, and encourages cavities and decay.

Don’t spread it!

It’s important to remember that although these bacteria are not a traditional disease, they are still “catchy” and can transfer from mouth to mouth. That is one reason why it’s so important to never share toothbrushes, even amongst close friends and family.

Especially regarding young children, the most common source of the bacteria transfer is from a parent. Sharing each other’s food, temperature testing a baby’s bottle, or even a loving kiss all can potentially transfer bacteria. While it’s most likely inevitable that a child will become host to these cavity-causing agents, it’s advisable to limit their exposure as much as possible.

About Dr. William J. Black

William Black earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Chemistry from the University of California, Davis in 1988. He then went on to the UCLA School of Dentistry where he graduated in 1992. Following dental school, Dr. Black served in the U.S. Navy for 3 years as a dentist. He then settled in the Sacramento area where he opened his practice in 1996. Dr. Black is a member of the American Dental Association (ADA), California Dental Association (CDA), Sacramento District Dental Society (SDDS), Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), and the Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD). He is currently pursuing Mastership with the Academy of General Dentistry and accreditation with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Dr. Black has 8 children, works actively with the Boy Scouts of America, and enjoys gardening.


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