Caption: Used wax dental floss with dental plaque (green), bacteria (purple) and cheek cells (red) on the dental floss fibers (yellow). Plaque consists of a biofilm of bacteria embedded in a glycoprotein matrix. The matrix is formed from bacterial secretions and saliva. The microorganisms that form the plaque biofilm are almost entirely bacteria (mainly Streptococcus mutans and other anaerobes) with the composition varying by location in the mouth. Plaque is the main cause of tooth decay. The bacteria feed on sugars in food, producing acid (latic acid) as a waste product. This acid corrodes the teeth's enamel coating, resulting in dental cavities. A build-up of dental plaque can also lead to inflamed and infected gums. Severe gum disease can lead to peridontal disease and teeth falling out. Dental flossing has been shown to be effective in removing bacteria and plaque from the teeth.
Magnification*: x70
Type: SEM
Copyright 2008 Dennis Kunkel Microscopy, Inc.
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