When it comes to dental plaque, most patients know that it isn’t good. Plaque contributes to cavities, gum disease, bad breath and that unpleasant “fuzzy feeling” along your teeth when you wake up in the morning. But what exactly is plaque? How does it form? Most importantly, how can we prevent it?
What is Plaque?
It can be nearly impossible to avoid plaque completely. Plaque is a sticky biofilm that forms when naturally occurring oral bacteria combines with the food, saliva and fluids in your mouth. Bacteria loves to feed on sugars, but a layer of plaque is produced in the process. Unfortunately, plaque is forming in your mouth all day long, putting you at risk for enamel-weakening acids and other oral threats.
The Problem with Hardened Plaque
If plaque is not properly brushed off your teeth and gums, it will harden into tartar. In fact, it takes just 48 hours for most plaque to harden, and within several days it can become so hard that it is impossible to remove without your dentist’s help. Tarter, or hardened plaque, is what causes cavities and gum disease. Without tartar these major dental health problems can’t exist.
What Can We Do to Prevent Plaque?
While it may be very difficult to prevent plaque from forming at all, it is possible to prevent the process of building up and hardening into tartar. Here are some key tips for avoiding plaque and tartar buildup:
- Brush twice a day for two minutes each session.
- Floss daily.
- Brush after meals or at least rinse with water.
- Avoid high-sugary drinks and snacks.
- Attend professional cleanings at your dentist to remove tartar.
Do You Need to See A Dentist
You may have thick and hard plaque on your smile without even knowing it. If it has been longer than six months since you’ve had a dental cleaning, schedule your visit now. Allowing this threatening bacterial film to linger only puts you at higher risks for unwanted dental problems. At Gilreath Dental Associates, we have the skill and tools to properly remove hardened plaque before it sabotages your oral health and weakens your smile confidence.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Paul Gilreath IV,