It All Starts With Biofilms | Delmarva Dental Services

It All Starts With Biofilms

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Biofilms have been present since life began. Their effect on our lives is immeasurable. Biofilms are present in nature, industry and our bodies. A biofilm is a layer or coating of living organisms present on moist surfaces. They can be found on a glacier, the desert, on a rock in a stream, the side of a boat, the slime on the inside of the dog bowl, the internal surface of any pipe, the cooling towers in a nuclear power plant, the surfaces of your teeth, gums, skin, your sinuses and your intestines.
Bacteria, fungi and other organisms make sticky substances called polysaccharides which allow them to stick to surfaces. As a biofilm grows in thickness, different layers and different species of organisms develop. Clumps of bacteria break off and attach elsewhere.

One type of organism near the surface of the biofilm layer may thrive on oxygen (aerobe) where another organism deeper may be avoiding oxygen (anaerobe). There are channels throughout the biofilm which allow nutrients & waste products to move throughout the layers. One particular type of bacteria can send messages directing some of its’ related bacteria to make one product and another group of related bacteria another product. This is like a bee hive where bees have specific jobs or even the human body where different organs have specific functions. In addition the different non related species of bacteria can communicate with one another to make products they usually don’t make. One organism may need iron so it tells another organism to make it. This communication is known as “quorum sensing.” Usually, the thicker the biofilm the more infectious and the harder to eliminate.

For more detailed information on biofilms see To learn how biofilms affect our health see Biofilms and Our Health”.