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Derren Ready, Eastman Dental Institute
This colour-enhanced photomicrograph shows different species of bacteria that cause dental plaque - a colourless film that forms on teeth caused by the growth of bacterial colonies. The sample was removed from the mouth of a patient diagnosed with an aggressive form of gum disease.
What does this show?
This image shows different species of oral bacterial colonies including Capnocytophaga and Aggregatibacter growing on an agar plate. A sample of plaque was removed from a periodontal pocket - between the tooth surface and the periodontium (gum) - of a patient with gum disease. The bacterial colonies were left to grow in culture on an agar plate so they could be studied more closely. Lighting the agar plate from below helps to show the detail and differences between the morphologies of the colonies present.
The original image was colourless so a colour was added post-imaging, Derren Ready explains. "I chose a colour that not only looked good but more importantly emphasised the colony morphology. Plaque samples from patients are normally mixed with a variety of different bacterial species and in this study we wanted to identify specific species as well as patient genetic profiles. This allowed us to determine if a patient's genetic profile would influence the likelihood of them harbouring specific disease-associated bacteria."
What diseases are transmitted by mosquitoes?
Dental plaque is caused by the growth of bacterial colonies trying to attach to the tooth. Plaque develops naturally, and in most cases can be easily removed with regular brushing. However, if left it can harden and cause dental calculus (tartar), which is difficult to remove. If not treated this can result in tooth decay.
The bacteria within the plaque produce acid as a by-product from the fermentation of sugars, which results in acid erosion of the enamel, the outer tooth surface. In severe cases there can be a shift of bacterial species present, which can lead to aggressive forms of gum disease, along with the progression of other related diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis, causing inflammation of the gums.