The Bacteria Responsible for Your Tooth Decay

They’re bad, but they’re not undefeatable.

Want to hear something crazy? There are a whopping 700+ strains of bacteria lingering around in your mouth right now. Yes, you read that correctly.

Buuut – you should also know that most of these strains are completely harmless, even necessary, in order to foster a healthy mouth environment. But what about the bad guys, you may be wondering? Well, that’s where diligent brushing, flossing, and healthy eating come in.

Get to Know the Enemy: Mutans Streptococci

Mutans Steptococci, also known as “strep mutans” or “s. mutans”, is a particular cavity-causing strain of bacteria present in our mouths. It’s actually this bacteria that uses the sugars that enter our mouths to create decay-causing acids that eat away at our precious tooth structure, and when this continues for long enough, a cavity or hole in the tooth forms – and only a dental filling from our Etobicoke dentist will be able to restore what was lost.

The interesting thing about s. mutans is, we’re not even born with these bacteria in our mouths. Our parents or caregivers often pass them down to us (or technically, “infect” us) when we’re babies or infants via saliva. This can occur through sharing a bite of food or a toothbrush, blowing on the baby’s food to cool it down before it enters their mouth, through sharing a kiss, etc.

How to Win the Fight…

Winning the fight against these decay-causing bacteria is quite simple! It’s to do what every dentist recommends: brush twice a day for two full minutes each time, and floss once a day. Limit your intake of sugars and carbohydrates (give the bacteria less cavity-causing fuel to work with!), and see your dentist and hygienist for a check-up and cleaning every 6 months or when required.

If you’re particularly at risk for tooth decay despite great oral hygiene habits, you can always take even extra precaution by practicing habits like chewing sugar-free gum regularly, and swishing/drinking water or milk after any meals or snacks containing carbs or sugar.

Keep practicing habits your smile appreciates… and that strep mutans don’t!


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