In the mouth there are various bacteria that inhabit regularly. Some of them are harmless or are related to certain bodily functions, while others are responsible for cavities in teeth . Poor dental hygiene, as well as excess consumption of certain foods, can cause these bacteria to proliferate, endangering the health of our teeth.
Streptococcus mutans: the bacteria responsible for cavities
The bacteria that have the most influence on the development of cavities are Streptococcus mutans, which are transferred from person to person and adhere to the teeth and gums, forming a transparent film known as plaque.
When you have good dental hygiene and health habits, the number of bacteria of this type is controllable and their proliferation can be prevented. The problem comes when you don’t pay attention to the signs that resistant plaque clumps are forming, which can lead to cavities.
Evolution of bacteria in the formation of cavities
Streptococcus mutans use sugars and other carbohydrates to make acids. These acids are produced every time you eat, and their attack lasts about half an hour. The enamel of the teeth is exposed to demineralization, although at first there are no signs of cavities.
As the effect of bacteria and its attacks progress, white spots are observed on the teeth , a sign that bacteria are fixing on it. When the demineralization of the enamel is important, it breaks and a hole forms, which is what is commonly known as cavities. In this state, only a dentist can treat the problem . Consult dental treatments, such as endodontics in the corresponding section.
Factors that favor the proliferation of bacteria
There are various factors that contribute to the number of bacteria and their attacks is increasing, with the consequent increase in risk. Of all of them, an excess of foods rich in carbohydrates is the most common, although it is sugars in general, and sucrose in particular, that produces a greater incidence in the number of cavities. Therefore, it is important to control the consumption of sweets, sugary drinks and industrial pastries.
The frequency of meals is another factor influencing the proliferation of bacteria and acid attacks. The more times a food is consumed, the greater the risk , since each time the bacteria synthesize the hydrates and produce acids. Therefore, it is less dangerous to have a soda at one time than to sip several sips over a few hours.
Foods rich in starches, such as potatoes or bread, have a higher degree of adherence and therefore a higher risk of causing cavities.
Also the way in which the different foods are taken can cause that the bacteria have more or less activity. For example, if after eating potatoes you eat a piece of cheese, the acids are neutralized and there is less danger.
Guidelines for preventing the advancement of cavity-causing bacteria
It is not possible to eliminate the colony of Streptococcus mutans that is in our mouth, because as we have said, they inhabit it naturally. However, its progress can be controlled and prevented from affecting the enamel. The recommended guidelines are well known, as they are mainly based on maintaining good oral hygiene and a balanced diet.
After every meal, your teeth are more susceptible to damage. Brushing your teeth at this time can damage tooth enamel by abrasion from the bristles. It is advisable to wait at least an hour after eating to brush your teeth. It is also necessary to use dental floss, in order to remove any food remains that have remained between the teeth, as well as any plaque deposits that have formed.
Using fluoride products like toothpastes or rinses helps your teeth strengthen enamel. This prevents the damage caused by the acid attacks of the bacteria.
Another essential step is to visit the dentist at least once a year for a complete check-up. Thus, if symptoms are observed that a cavity is taking place, preventive measures can be taken in order to eliminate excess bacterial plaque.
Finally, proper nutrition is very important. Both in the main meals and between meals, if you eat any food you have to try to take those that favor the production of saliva and reduce acidity.
The bacteria that cause cavities are part of the body. But it is important to keep them at bay to avoid problems.