You brush your teeth religiously, eat a reasonably healthy diet, you floss at least some of the time, and you regularly use a mouthwash. You use a fluoride based toothpaste. You are reasonably good at maintaining a regular schedule of dental appointments. In fact, you follow all the mainstream advice on dental care. However, when you get to the dentists, there is always some dental decay, always a filling or cavity that needs attention. When you do get a filling, it often needs a bigger filling, then a really large filling, followed by a crown and root canal. If the root canal fails, then the only thing left is an implant, a large gap in your gums, or some kind of bridge device.
You in turn get more and frustrated. You purchase bigger and more powerful sonic toothbrushes, bigger tubs of mouthwash, and start brushing your teeth after lunch at work. No joy. Nothing seems to work. You talk to your dentist, who just shrugs and says it happens.
What’s going on? Very simply, dental decay and gum disease is an infection, “an invasion by pathogenic microorganisms of a bodily part in which the conditions are favorable for growth, production of toxins, and resulting injury to tissue.” (Webster’s II New Riverside University Dictionary).
What are these microorganisms? Pathogens of bacterial, protozoan, viral or fungal origin have been implicated as causal factors in periodontal disease. One strain in particular has been identified called Streptococcus mutans. Streptococcus mutans, and Streptococcus Sobrinus are the bacteria that cause the majority of tooth decay and gum disease. Streptococcus mutans is a heterotrophic organism which simply means that it must live off of another organism by eating another organism or using them as a host. The human oral cavity is the host of S. mutans.
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