Plaque and Calculus
in the mouth, Streptococcus mutans,
use sucrose to create extracellular polysaccharides
glucans. Glucans allow the bacteria to adhere to one another and to the
tooth surface. The resulting biofilm of glucans and bacteria is called
plaque. Plaque can only be readily removed through brushing.
plaque is not removed, the lactic acid produced by S. mutans starts to
away at the dental enamel, resulting in caries ("cavities"). Saliva
cannot get under the plaque to buffer the acidic environment.
Calculus is mineralized plaque, and is very hard to remove.
WOW! It gets that bad!
One possible mechanism behind
calculus formation is an alkaline oral environment, which increases
precipitation of minerals from the saliva. Some theorize that
high protein diets predispose someone to more calculus, also high
carbohydrate consumption and 'hardness' of drinking water. (Lieverse