You hear a lot about “dental plaque” and how its buildup can lead to gum disease and tooth loss if it isn’t controlled. One of the reasons we’re alway saying “brush and floss” is that doing so is one of the easiest ways to control tooth plaque. Brushing twice a day and flossing once a day at a minimum will slow the growth of plaque.
So what is plaque? Well, we’ve all been exposed to it’s growth:
Plaque is the sticky, colorless film of bacteria that forms on teeth. It makes teeth “feel fuzzy” to the tongue and is most noticeable when teeth are not brushed.
We all have bacteria in our mouths and like all organisms they have to eat. It is what we give them to eat that may lead to the problem of plaque buildup.
Plaque develops when foods containing carbohydrates (sugars and starches), such as milk, soft drinks, raisins, cakes, or candy are frequently left on the teeth. Bacteria that live in the mouth thrive on these foods, producing acids as a result. Over a period of time, these acids destroy tooth enamel, resulting in tooth decay.Plaque can also develop on the tooth roots under the gum and cause breakdown of the bone supporting the tooth.
How can we prevent or at least slow down the formation of plaque? Here are some tips:
- To prevent plaque buildup, brush your teeth at least twice a day with a soft, rounded-tip bristled toothbrush. Pay particular attention to the space where the gums and teeth meet. Use a fluoride-containing .
- Floss between teeth at least once a day to remove food particles and bacteria.
- See your dentist or oral hygienist every 6 months for a check-up and teeth cleaning.
- Ask your dentist if a dental sealant is appropriate for you. Dental sealants are a thin, plastic coating that are painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth to protect them from cavities and decay.
- Eat a balanced diet and limit the number of between-meal snacks. If you need a snack, choose nutritious foods such as plain yogurt, cheese, fruit, or raw vegetables. Vegetables, such as celery, help remove food and help saliva neutralize plaque-causing acids.
- Use an antibacterial mouth rinse to reduce the number of bacteria in your mouth.
As we’ve mentioned in the past, plaque is the main culprit in gum disease, and 75% of all adults over 35 have some form of gum disease. Following the tips above will definitely help you stay in the 25% who don’t suffer gum disease and it’s effects. If you have any questions about anything in this post, please, don’t hesitate to call us.