Plaque is a mixture of bacteria, food particles, and saliva that sticks to teeth. You aren’t able to see plaque, but you can usually feel it as a rough or fuzzy layer over your teeth that forms in the hours after brushing.
You know that plaque is harmful to your smile, but do you know exactly how this substance works to damage your oral health? Here are three ways that plaque can lead to long-term consequences for your teeth and gums!
Plaque Buildup Can Increase Your Risk for Periodontal Disease
Brushing and flossing your teeth go a long way towards removing plaque. However, even the most thorough brushing and flossing routines are bound to miss some plaque. The plaque that gets left behind from where your toothbrush or floss don’t reach can turn into tartar, a hard substance that can only be removed by your dentist.
Both plaque and tartar can build up around the gumline and increase your risk for periodontal disease, also called gum disease . When not removed regularly, the bacteria in plaque can irritate the gum tissue and lead to red, swollen, or infected gums.
Cavities and Sensitive Teeth Can Happen Due to Plaque
Plaque sticks to your teeth and coats your tooth enamel. Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, and it coats each and every one of your teeth, protecting the softer tissues underneath and helping your smile stay bright.
The bacteria in plaque can produce harsh acids, which can attack your tooth enamel, causing it to wear away . Unfortunately, once tooth enamel is gone, it can’t regrow. With the enamel gone, the tooth is unprotected and cavities can begin to form. When tooth enamel wears away in this way, it can also cause you to have sensitive teeth.
Without your enamel, temperatures can reach the inner nerves of your teeth, causing painful sensitivity to hot, cold, and even sweet and spicy foods.
Plaque Can Cause Discolored Teeth and Bad Breath
Plaque buildup can cause discolored teeth as a result of tooth enamel damage. The layer beneath your tooth enamel, called dentin, is a softer tissue and naturally has a more yellowish hue.
When tooth enamel gets worn away due to plaque, dentin can begin to show through, leading to discolored teeth that may appear more yellow and stain easier.
Plaque buildup can also lead to chronic bad breath . While not harmful in and of itself, chronic bad breath is usually a sign that another condition is present, such as periodontal disease, which can also result from plaque.
Is Plaque Affecting Your Smile?
Even with regular brushing and flossing, plaque can still affect your smile. If you’re suffering from sensitive teeth, inflamed gum tissue, or chronic bad breath, plaque could be impacting your oral health. An exam and cleaning with your dentist can remove harmful plaque, helping you maintain a strong and bright smile for life!