Plaque is a substance that builds up on teeth without regular brushing. Plaque can form from an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the mouth in which there are more bad bacteria. These bacteria can create an acidic pH in the mouth, cause plaque to form, and plaque can eventually turn into tartar if left alone. Tartar is much harder than plaque and can only be removed professionally by a dentist.Let’s take a closer look at plaque: how it happens, how it can be prevented, and how to ensure a healthy smile for life.
How Does Plaque Form?
Plaque forms from a lack of proper brushing and flossing that’s usually combined with a poor diet consisting of many sugars and refined flours, which can lead to a buildup of plaque in the mouth. The bacteria in plaque can cause damage to your enamel and can eventually lead to tooth decay, cavities, and gingivitis, which is the beginning of periodontal (gum) disease.Plaque can form in as little as 24 hours of not brushing. Over time, plaque can turn into tartar, which typically forms along the gum line and can only be removed professionally. Once plaque forms, it can still be removed. The sooner you remove plaque, the better, as it can be damaging to teeth the more time it has to form!
Preventing plaque is as simple as engaging in proper brushing and flossing habits as well as eating a healthy diet. Foods like apples, carrots, and celery for snacks as opposed to cookies or pre-packaged foods can actually help clean your teeth, whereas sugars that sit on your teeth can become corrosive within minutes of being left in your mouth. In addition, sugars also contribute to the bacteria and acidic environment of your mouth, which can lead to even more problems with your smile!
Flossing once a day is ideal, but you may consider flossing more if food gets easily stuck between your teeth. Brushing once a day is enough, but twice a day is ideal. Proper brushing is more important than vigorous brushing, which can actually harm your teeth! Talk with your dentist about those hard-to-reach places in your mouth and which toothbrush and brushing techniques would be ideal for you.
Keeping Up with Plaque
It’s easy to keep up with plaque. Visiting your dentist is crucial because your dentist will be able to give your teeth a thorough cleaning and talk with you about all the places in your mouth you may not be reaching with your toothbrush. Even with proper brushing, spots can still be missed. Places in-between your teeth are particularly difficult to get, so this is why flossing is ideal. Remove food particles and bacteria from in-between tight spaces with floss.
Preventing plaque is easy, and as plaque can turn into a variety of other dental problems such as tartar, gingivitis, and cavities, brushing and flossing is very beneficial. Keeping up with plaque is as easy as getting regular checkups with your dentist, brushing and flossing, and making health snack and beverage choices during the day!