You know that cavities–the chief reason why people need reconstructive dentistry–are caused by bacteria that feed on sugars in the mouth and produce acids that attack your teeth. But research shows that some bacteria might be able to feed on sugar and actually protect your teeth from cavities.
Bizarro Cavity Prevention
So how do we do this? The secret is that there are many different types of bacteria that can be found in your mouth, one of which is Streptococcus salivarius, which doesn’t form plaque on your teeth. Instead, it secretes an enzyme compound designated FruA, which inhibits plaque formation by other bacteria, such as Streptococcus mutans, which is the worst culprit in cavity formation and gum disease. By suppressing the formation of plaque, S. salivarius could make brushing, flossing, and tooth-colored fillings redundant.
So where does sugar come in? Like S. mutans, S. salivarius feeds on sugar, so its production of FruA is enhanced in the presence of sucrose.
Why does S. salivarius produce its cavity-fighting enzyme? Your mouth is a competitive environment where many species are fighting over scarce resources. Over the millennia, S. salivarius developed FruA as a natural weapon against its enemy, S. mutans and other plaque-forming bacteria.
A potential solution to the problem of tooth decay and gum disease, then, is simply properly cultivating good bacteria in your mouth that can outcompete and destroy the bad bacteria without a need for oral hygiene as we now know it.
Understand the Bacteria in Your Mouth
At Rice Dentistry, we take an advanced approach to treating gum disease that can include DNA testing of bacteria in your mouth to determine whether dangerous or helpful bacteria dominate in your mouth, and which kinds.