Colgate Colgate Oral and Dental Health Resource Center

Innovative toothpastes to clean and brighten every type of smile.


A toothbrush for every type of smile, designed with comfort and results in mind.


Colgate kids' products make brushing fun and encourage routine use.

Kids' Products

Oral care products available exclusively through dental professionals.

Products From the Dentist

Professional grade oral care, available without a prescription.

Other Oral Care

Every smile is unique and requires a different type of care. Colgate has a solution for every smile.

Search by Benefit
Font size

Bacterium and fungus team may cause early childhood caries

The bacterium Streptococcus mutans and the fungus Candida albicans act together to cause mayhem in the mouth of children, in the form of cavities, according to new research.

University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine investigators identified the relationship between the bacterium and a fungus and reported their findings online Feb. 24 in the journal Infection and Immunity.

"Our data will certainly open the way to test agents to prevent this disease, and even more intriguing, the possibility of preventing children from acquiring this infection," said Dr. Hyun Koo, lead investigator.

The bacterium S. mutans enables C. albicans to produce a glue-like polymer in the presence of sugar. The polymer allows the fungus to stick to teeth and to bind S. mutans. This relationship with S. mutans aids the fungus in contributing to the bulk of plaque, according to the researchers.

Plaque is a sticky film that contains bacteria and can contribute to tooth decay and gum disease. The bacteria, following a meal or snack containing sugar, can release acids that attack tooth enamel.

S. mutans previously was seen as the sole organism contributing to tooth decay, but the Penn researchers say that their study showed infection by the bacterium along with C. albicans doubled the number of cavities and increased the disease's severity in rats. Dr. Koo and his collaborators—as well as other investigators—noticed that C. albicans is very often present in early childhood caries biofilm, or plaque.

"The combination of the two organisms led to a greatly enhanced production of the glue-like polymer, drastically boosting the ability of the bacterium and the fungus to colonize the teeth, increasing the bulk of the biofilms and the density of the infection," said Dr. Koo, a dentist who holds a Ph.D. in oral biology.

The American Dental Association has information about cavities, plaque and other related oral health topics on, its website for consumers. Click the A-Z Topics section on the home page to access the topics of gum disease (periodontal disease), nutrition, and heart disease/oral health.

©2010 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

03/24/2014  |  |  Legal/Privacy  | Site Map  |  Contact Us
© Colgate-Palmolive Company. All rights reserved.
You are viewing the United States site.