Dietary sugars, starches, and fermentable carbohydrates (usually collectively referred to as sugars) are present in the diet, and are in direct contact with plaque during eating, and for some time afterwards. The breakdown of sugars is an important step that influences the plaque environment. Enzymes in bacteria and saliva break down sugars’ polysaccharides and disaccharides to monosaccharides. There are five main mechanisms by which oral Streptococci hydrolyze (break down) sucrose (Figure 5).
Figure 5. Mechanisms of sucrose hydrolysis by oral bacteria.
Video 2. Why is sucrose the most cariogenic of all fermentable carbohydrates?