An Overview on Veillonella – The Plaque Producing Bacteria


Oral health is a topic of global importance as the consequences of poor oral hygiene may directly affect the body systems. Our mouth is a home for several types of microbiomes. Most of the oral bacteria occur naturally and do not cause any harm to the mouth. However, in some instances, specific bacteria may outgrow in number to initiate a process of tooth decay or gum infection.

It is essential to learn and familiarize yourself with different types of disease-, causing bacteria in the mouth. One of the common disease-causing bacteria in the mouth is Veillonella. Veillonella, like any other bacteria, is a part of our healthy body flora, and it occurs naturally in the mouth. As harmless as it may sound, Veillonella can multiply during poor oral hygiene, excessive plaque, and tartar accumulation.

Often, Veillonella functions together with streptococci bacteria and lead to tooth decay and periodontal disease in the mouth. Today’s article will highlight the features of Veillonella and its effects on the teeth and gums. Moreover, we will discuss the preventive ways to maintain the balance among the oral microbiome.

What is Veillonella?

Typically, Veillonella is a non-motile anaerobic bacteria – an organism that does not require oxygen for growth and survival. Such bacteria often react negatively or even die in the presence of oxygen. Moreover, they survive well in the presence of carbon dioxide. (1)

Veillonella occurs naturally in the oral mucosa of the mouth. On a microscopic level, Veillonella is seen as a round bacterium that appears in pairs, masses, or short chains. This is the reason why Veillonella is considered as a cocci bacterium – round-shaped bacteria.

A clinical study revealed that out of the 200 types of bacteria in the mouth, Veillonella works well with streptococcus bacteria. Together these oral bacteria lead to the early formation of plaque, which forms continuously on the surface of the tooth. (2)

How does Veillonella form in the mouth?

All the bacterial communities in the mouth do not form randomly. They are created by a selective process to support the growth of many other species at the same time. This process helps to maintain the balance and harmony between several types of bacteria in the mouth.

Veillonella is a unique strain of cocci bacteria that works in co-ordination with streptococci. This is because the lactic acid produced by streptococci as a result of fermentation of dietary sugars is an essential source for the growth and development of Veillonella. (3) Furthermore, Veillonella creates an environment in the mouth which is suitable for the development of other bacterial species.

How does Veillonella affect oral health?

Veillonella may have the following effects on oral health –

Tooth decay and gum disease

In our mouth, there are specific sites that tend to adhere to several types of bacteria. For example, both Veillonella and streptococci species adhere to the tongue and buccal mucosa before the eruption of teeth. As the teeth erupt, these two bacteria work together to form a continuous layer of plaque on the tooth surface. With gradual growth and colonization, Veillonella along with streptococci lay a matrix that supports the growth of other bacteria within the plaque.

Studies have shown that around 60-90% of the bacteria in plaque is streptococci, whereas 5% of the bacterial strains represent Veillonella. In case of excessive plaque accumulation, these bacteria outnumber their natural occurrence to cause tooth decay and eventually gum infections.

Bloodstream infections

Veillonella endocarditis is a variation of the Veillonella species which has been reported as the main culprit for causing bloodstream infections among teenagers and young adults. The most common source of bloodstream infection is the oropharyngeal route. (4) Often this type of infection is caused by predisposing factors like –

  • Immunosuppression
  • Intravenous drug use
  • Surgical dental procedures

What can you do to improve your oral health?

It is essential to understand that plaque formation is a continuous process. As soon as you clean your teeth, Veillonella, and other disease-causing bacteria to begin their process of plaque formation. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance for you to follow a regular oral health care routine.

Missing even a single day of dental care may result in the initiation of tooth infection. Veillonella is a naturally occurring oral bacteria; therefore, you cannot eliminate it from your mouth. However, regular plaque removal can disrupt the bacterial colonies before they cause any harm. Following are some necessary steps you can follow to maintain your oral health and hygiene –

  • Brush your teeth at least two times a day with a fluoridated toothpaste.
  • Use a flossing thread or pick to clean the bacteria from between the teeth.
  • Always replace your toothbrush for every 3-4 months. Old and worn out toothbrushes do not clean the teeth efficiently. Moreover, they lead to the accumulation of bacteria in the mouth.
  • Use a tongue scraper to clean your tongue as it primarily hosts the bacterial species.
  • An antibacterial mouthwash can help to reduce the number of harmful bacteria in the mouth.
  • Limit your sugar and carbohydrate intake to prevent tooth decay or gum disease
  • Regular professional teeth cleaning helps to remove the plaque and tartar in the mouth, especially around the gumline.

Take away message

It is a fact that most of the oral bacteria are harmless and occur naturally in the mouth. However, it is essential to note that if given the opportunity, these bacteria can grow and affect your oral health severely. Veillonella is one among such bacterial species which occurs in the mouth as a non-motile anaerobic bacteria.

Veillonella works in co-ordination with streptococci to survive in the mouth. Furthermore, it helps to build the plaque layer on the tooth surface. Ineffective oral health care routine can often lead to increased plaque accumulation in the mouth. Moreover, it accelerates the activities of Veillonella in causing tooth decay and gum disease.

Keeping a diligent home care routine can help to maintain these bacteria under harmless limits. Additionally, it will help you to stay away from dental caries, gum infections, or any other oral conditions.

Sukanya has done BDS. She is a dentist, a blogger, an extrovert, and a travel enthusiast. She is also a spiritual believer. When she is not working, you can find her reading books.