The Role of Oral Streptococci in Plaque Formation
The streptococci that play a role in plaque formation are called viridans streptococci. Species in the viridans group are early colonizers of the teeth, especially Streptococcus mitis, Streptococcus sanguinis, and Streptococcus gordonii. These species bind directly to the tooth's surface to create a base layer of plaque. With a steady diet of carbohydrates and poor oral hygiene, these streptococci create an acidic environment that damages your enamel and creates cavities.
Typically, your saliva can help neutralize these acids and repair enamel damage through remineralization. But the bacteria can use the sugar from your diet to form a thick, dense layer of plaque that prevents your saliva from penetrating the biofilm and removing the dangerous acid. The acidic environment attracts bacteria like Streptococcus mutans, which is known for its cavity-causing properties. With no treatment, these oral streptococci can lead to tooth decay and loss.