Plaque is a pale yellow or colorless sticky film that constantly forms or accumulates on your teeth. When food, liquids, and saliva combine, plaque forms between the teeth and along your gum line. Plaque contributes to bad breath and makes the teeth look yellow and stained. Plaque contains bacteria that can also lead to the early stage of gingivitis.
Because bacteria constantly grow in our mouths, everyone develops plaque, a major cause of dental health problems. Plaque should be removed at least once a day — but twice is better. If you only brush once per day, then it should be done before you go to bed.
Interesting Facts About Plaque
Plaque will typically start accumulating on your teeth several hours after brushing. This is the reason why brushing or flossing at least two times each day is so important. Dental plaque that you don’t remove may cause irritation and inflammation of the gums.
According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, data shows that each year, around 35,000 Americans get diagnosed with oral cancer, and poor oral health is a major contributor.
While dental plaque is commonly depicted as the cause of periodontitis and caries (mostly in commercial adverts), dental plaque also beneficial to the host. It helps in preventing plaqueintra-oral colonization by other exogenous species. Plaque also acts as a repository for fluoride as well as other minerals that slow down dental enamel demineralization and promote remineralization.
What Causes Plaque?
If not removed regularly by proper flossing and brushing, plaque mineralizes into tartar. This is a yellow or brown hard deposit that tends to tightly adhere to your teeth. It can only be removed by a professional dentist and if not removed can trigger more serious gum disease and severe tooth decay.
Plaque develops when you frequently leave foods that contain carbohydrates (starches and sugars) on your teeth. These foods include candy, cakes, raisins, milk, and soft drinks. Bacteria living in your mouth will thrive on these types of foods to produce plaque.
Food residues provide the nutrients needed by germs that are responsible for tooth decay and gum disease. This underlines the importance of removing all food residues from your teeth.
What Happens If Left Untreated?
To prevent the buildup of plaque, brush with a rounded-tip soft toothbrush daily. In particular, pay attention to space where your teeth and gums meet. Consider using toothpaste that contains fluoride.
At least twice a day, floss between teeth to remove remains of food particles and bacteria. You may also use a good antibacterial mouth rinse as it reduces bacteria that cause gum disease and plaque.
Consider chewing gum as it also helps in removing plaque, but ensure it’s sugar-free. When you chew, the mouth produces more saliva, helpful in rinsing away and neutralizing some of the acids that contribute to plaque formation.
Role Of Brushing And Flossing
Use a toothbrush that feels comfortable (soft or medium), but avoid scrubbing too hard. The best approach is with short back/forth, small circular motions. You may also want to consider an electric toothbrush as studies show that they significantly help in reducing the buildup of dental plaque.
If you want to completely destroy plaque and all other harmful mouth bacteria, consider using a scientifically-designed oral health product like the Sonic Toothbrush which is not only easy to use, interactive but highly recommended for everyday oral hygiene.
Flossing is also incremental. If you are trying to decide between flossing and brushing, don’t, you need both. Your toothbrush will simply never be able to reach certain places and be as effective as a water flosser, or another method of flossing.
Lastly, remember that regular visits to your dentist are the foundation of good oral hygiene. A dentist will be in a position to offer professional dental advice. In case you are having an excessive case of plaque buildup, you need to see your dentist who can help you get rid of the buildup through a scaling procedure.
Author: Peter Mayhew
Peter is a dental hygienist in the city of Chicago, IL. In his free time he likes to write blogs and product reviews on anything dental health related.