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Everything You Need to Know about Plaque

July 1st, 2019|
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Plaque is something that is unavoidable as it naturally forms in the mouth. However, if not taken care of properly, it can be quite damaging to teeth and gums.

Which is why we have dedicated an entire blog to everything you need to know about plaque build-up in your mouth.

What is Plaque?

Plaque is a colourless to pale yellow film that builds up on your teeth. It forms when saliva, food and fluids combine to produce bacteria deposits which slowly collect where your teeth and gum meet.

In the BCM Oral Health journal, Dr Philip D. Marshall defines dental plaque as a microbial film — a community of microorganisms found on the tooth surface. These microorganisms, bacteria mostly, feed on the food and drink that you consume daily.

How does this harm your teeth?

Seeing as this plaque contains millions of bacteria, it is important that you take the necessary steps to get them off your teeth. These bacteria feed on the food and drink deposits in your mouth and secrete out acids as a byproduct. The acids produced will attack your tooth enamel and can damage gums.

Without proper brushing and cleaning, you will be at risk of some serious dental conditions. These acids can lower the pH value in your mouth and eat away at the tooth enamel causing tooth decay (cavities). Dental plaque build-up near the gum line can cause an inflammation of the gums leading to gingivitis, which brings a whole host of other issues.

When plaque is left on the teeth and not properly cleaned via brushing, it will also start to harden and become what is called tartar. This is when the plaque calcifies, becoming more tough and absorbs stains easily making your teeth turn yellow or brown. Tartar can develop in just 24 hours if you don’t brush your teeth properly to remove food residue and bacteria. At this point, no amount of brushing or flossing at home can help remove it and its imperative that you visit the dentist for a proper cleaning to remove the tartar.

The dentist will use a scaler to get rid of the plaque and tartar build-up around your gum line and between your teeth.

How to Prevent Plaque & Tartar Build-up?

You can’t get rid of plaque completely, but you can ensure it doesn’t get to the point where there is excessive plaque in your mouth that causes all these problems. This means you need to be diligent about keeping your mouth clean regularly before the acid starts to cause tooth decay or gum diseases and before tartar starts to develop.

There are a few oral hygiene practices that go a long way when it comes to preventing plaque build-up.

  • Brushing your teeth is one of the key ways to keep your mouth clean. And not just a short 30 second brush. You need to ensure you brush your teeth twice a day for at least 2 minutes. Use brush with soft bristles and be sure to clean even all the hard to reach places: surface behind your teeth and on your rear molars.
  • Always opt to floss along with brushing your teeth. While brushing is great, it is hard to reach between your teeth. Flossing is a great way to get into those crevices and remove the plaque build-up there.
  • Choose a good quality toothpaste with tartar control for healthy teeth and gums. Fluoride in toothpastes will also help with enamel damage.
  • Having a healthy diet, especially one high in vegetable intake, will also be beneficial. The bacteria that’s in your mouth love sugary and starchy food. So any candy and carbohydrates increase the amount of acid that is released by these bacteria. Try to limit carbs and sugary foods and be mindful about what you’re consuming. It’s also great to brush after meals and drink a lot of water.
  • It is also really important to visit your dentist every six months at least. This is just to ensure your teeth are doing well and give your teeth a proper cleaning to limit any damage caused by plaque.

If you haven’t been to a dentist in a while, schedule an appointment with The Townsville Dentist Centre  for a checkup and to make sure your teeth are healthy. Our experts will be able to give you advice on the best practices to keep your teeth in good shape.

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