Tooth decay sounds daunting and horrible, and while it’s no walk in the park, it’s still highly preventable and manageable, except when the bacteria mutates inside your mouth. Tooth decay comes in a couple of different variations, but most commonly it comes in the form of cavities which are generally pretty manageable. Tooth decay is caused by one specific strain of bacteria called Streptococcus mutans. In general, if you keep the tartar in your mouth from forming, you’ll be able to easily avoid allowing the second strain of this same bacteria, a more aggressive version from taking root in your mouth and causing rampant tooth decay with much more undesirable results than a mere cavity. If you’re concerned about tooth decay, which everyone should be at least a little wary at the prospect, you might schedule a regular cleaning or an appointment with your Missoula Dentist to get everything checked out and make sure that this bacteria can’t attack the integrity and structure of your teeth.

The Basics of Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is actually the most common chronic disease in both children and adults. It’s what happens when the good and bad bacteria inside your mouth mingle and causes decay to occur. What we’ll call the bad bacteria is the same as the previously mentioned streptococcus mutans. It forms a film over the teeth that’s called tartar. This film absorbs the sugars from the food we consume and ferments them into acid against the tooth which then causes the bone and tooth to decalcify and form cavities. Though it’s little known, there’s a second strain of tooth decaying bacteria by the name of Streptococcus sobrinus which is rarely found but causes a much more severe reaction. Up until now, there was very little known about this microbial variation, but that’s all changed now. Recently, a team of bioengineering researchers successfully sequenced the genome of the three strains of this particularly dangerous bacteria.

The Trouble With Sobrinus

While the strain of bacteria called mutans still turns sugar into acid, its counterpart, sobrinus, works quicker and more reactively within your mouth. The bacteria is associated with the poorest clinical outcomes and produces acid more quickly from the sugars on your teeth. Because this particular strain is unpredictable and pretty difficult to work within a lab environment it has been largely avoided in the lab, hence why it’s not been sequenced for years after the initial discovery. Now that both strains of bacteria have been successfully sequenced, the researchers have started to design computational models that will allow us to better understand the catalysts of tooth decay and how we can stop it directly at the source. They’ve already determined that sobrinus cannot cause tooth decay without its brother mutans because of it’s lacking “quorum sensing,” known as the ability for a bacteria to sense and communicate with another, nearby bacteria. Understanding this bacteria will significantly decrease the number of cavities most people get and diminish the acceleration of tooth decay.

Keep Your Own Bacteria At Bay

Maybe someday in the future, tooth decay will be totally dismantled by a quick treatment of some peptoid blocking ointment in your mouth to avoid bacteria communication and thus, growth. Until that happens though, you’ll still need to come into your Missoula dentist for occasional checkups and cleanings to ensure that your own tooth decay doesn’t get out of hand. Reach out to Bitterroot Dental to schedule your own preventative maintenance for your mouth today.