Streptococcus mutans bacteria. Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of Streptococcus mutans bacteria adhering to the enamel of a tooth. At top is a typical chain of these Gram-positive, non- motile, spherical bacteria. Lower down (white) is dental enamel. Streptococcus mutans is a major cause of tooth decay and one of the principal bacteria that cause plaque formation on teeth. It produces dextran, the adhesive glucose which makes up plaque. Within plaque, bacteria produce large amounts of lactic acid, causing demineralization of the tooth enamel and dentine, resulting in caries (tooth decay). Magnification: x20,000 at 6x7cm, x11,000 at 35mm size.
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