Plaque and Your Teeth
What Causes Plaque and Why Is It Harmful?
Plaque develops when foods containing carbohydrates (sugars and starches), such as milk, soft drinks, raisins, cakes, or candy are frequently left on the teeth. Bacteria that live in the mouith thrive on these foods, producing acids as a result. Over a period of time, these acids destroy tooth enamel, resulting in tooth decay. Plaque can also develop on the tooth roots under the gum and cause breakdown of the bone supporting the tooth.
Plaque usually can’t be seen with the naked eye, but it poses a real threat to your oral health as well as to cosmetic work such as crowns or bridge. If allowed to build up, plaque may even put your teeth and gums at risk.
Things You Need to Know AboutPlaque
- It’s made up of bacteria and it’s hard to see
- It produces acids that can lead to tooth decay
- It grows all the time and needs to be removed regularly
How Can Plaque Formation Be Prevented?
- To prevent plaque buildup, brush your teeth at least twice a day with a soft, rounded-tip bristled toothbrush. Pay particular attention to the space where the gums and teeth meet. Use a fluoride-containing toothpaste.
- Floss between teeth at least once a day to remove food particles and bacteria.
- Use an antibacterial mouth rinse to reduce bacteria that cause plaque and gum disease.
- See Drs. Barbara or Katie Bell or Dr. Rofe and one of our dental hygienists every 6 months for a check-up and teeth cleaning.
- Ask Dr. Barbara Bell or Dr. Katie Bell if a dental sealant is appropriate for you. Dental sealants are a thin, plastic coating that are painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth to protect them from cavities and decay.
- Eat a balanced diet and limit the number of between-meal snacks. If you need a snack, choose nutritious foods such as plain yogurt, cheese, fruit, or raw vegetables. Vegetables, such as celery, help remove food and help saliva neutralize plaque-causing acids.