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Dental plaque results from a large accumulation of bacteria on the teeth. Although the native oral flora in the mouth contributes to host nutrition by breaking down nutrients into vitamins, dental plaques are areas that contain about one thousand more bacteria than found in normal saliva. The ability of bacteria to attach and accumulate on the tooth begins when the tooth is first coated with a thin film of proteins from the saliva providing for a secure attachment site for bacteria colonization.

The bacteria can then attach to the tooth and begin to produce dextran, which is synthesized from sucrose. In this process, sucrose is hydrolyzed into fructose and glucose and the residual amount of fructose that is left is fermented into lactic acid, which attacks tooth enamel resulting in dental carries. Dental carries, or cavities, therefore result from the direct destruction of the protective enamel of the teeth by bacterial products.

Info from:
Davis, M.D., R. Dulbecco, H.N. Eisen, and H.s. Ginsberg, 1990. Microbiology, 4th editi0n. J.B. Lippincott, Philidelphia.

Madigan, M.T., J.M. Martinko, and J. Parker, 2000. Biology of Microorganisms, 9th edition. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey.