Mutans Streptococci or Strep Mutans
Strep Mutans a shortened term for Mutans Streptococci, is an acid-producing bacterium that attacks tooth enamel minerals which in turn causes tooth decay. Of the hundreds of different types of bacteria living in your mouth, only a handful are thought to cause gum disease, but only Strep Mutans is implicated as the main cause of dental decay. Since there is one bacterium behind tooth decay it is easier to control then the many that cause gum disease.
It is believed that strep mutans are first introduced at an infant stage when a child is breast feeding and continually re-introduced by a person's food preferences later on. Strep Mutans can be controlled by reducing the food products that the bacterium thrives on. Strep Mutans feed off of refined carbohydrates like sugar, fruit, milk, and starch.
When theses products are eaten, strep mutans produce acid which harm the teeth, roots, and gums. This bacterium can continually wear tooth enamel and seep all the way down to the dental pulp making it necessary to get a root canal. Regular brushing and mouthwash are not enough to fight this bacterium!
Things that can help combat this bacterium are products containing xylitol such as gums, candies, and dental hygiene products or products containing baking soda like toothpaste. Using fluoride products are a must as they remineralize tooth enamel which helps to prevent tooth decay. It is recommended that when any simple carbohydrates are digested that the patient either brush teeth immediately or wash the mouth with fresh water. Strep Mutans thrive on acidity so it is best to avoid acidic foods and choose healthier products as snacks like calcium enriched foods or raw vegetables. If acidic and sugar foods are continually ingested at high amounts patients are at high risk for dental caries (the disease that causes tooth decay).