Streptococcus mutans enters the human oral cavity shortly after birth and attacks teeth through acid production. This bacterium is the primary agent of dental cavity formation. It thrives on carbohydrates and secretes a powerful anaerobic acid that destroys tooth enamel. Streptococcus mutans does not need oxygen and flourishes in the deepest recesses between the teeth and gums.
The highest concentrations of Streptococcus mutans are found in dental plaque, a sticky biofilm that forms on tooth enamel. Professional dental cleaning is the most effective way to reduce the presence of this bacterium and the damage it causes. Oral antibiotics are unreliable against it because they do not penetrate below the surface of plaque deposits.
Although important for general oral health, tooth brushing and mouthwash are ineffective against Streptococcus mutans. Xylitol, a natural sweetener used in chewing gum, neutralizes the cavity-forming acid. Fluoride also fights the effects of Streptococcus mutans by bolstering damaged enamel.
Baking soda is another asset in the struggle with Streptococcus mutans. It raises the oral pH level, neutralizing the bacterial acid. Baking soda also removes plaque and kills several types of oral bacteria. Many commercial toothpastes contain baking soda and fluoride, but homemade preparations produce comparable results. A simple homemade paste of fluoridated water and baking soda fights halitosis, whitens teeth, obliterates plaque and kills bacteria.