Tooth plaque is among the mouth’s greatest enemies. As it forms and accumulates on the teeth, plaque dissolves the enamel and causes tooth decay and cavities. Plaque likewise forms bacteria in the mouth, which can lead to bad breath and yellowed teeth. When it builds up over long periods of time, plaque turns into dental calculus, a hardened form of plaque that is more difficult to remove and resolve. Here, our dentists in Orlando with Thornton Park Dental Arts discuss what plaque is, what causes plaque, why plaque is harmful, and how to prevent plaque.
Dental plaque, commonly referred to as biofilm, is a sticky deposit on the teeth in which f millions of different bacteria proliferate. This soft, sticky film is colorless to pale yellow and creates a fuzzy feeling on the surface of teeth. When plaque is colorless, it can be more difficult to detect than colored plaque, so maintaining a good oral hygiene routine is critical, whether or not you can see plaque. Plaque on teeth is notorious, as it is a leading cause of dental decay, cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease.
Plaque and plaque buildup form as a result of chemical reactions that occur in the mouth. For plaque to develop, the mouth requires a combination of bacteria, carbohydrates, food particles, and saliva. Carbohydrates can be found in the vast majority of foods (even fruits and vegetables!) Food items containing high amounts of sugar have more carbohydrates in them than those with minimal sugar contents. So, individuals who eat foods with high sugar contents are more likely to form significant amounts of plaque.
Yes! Plaque that isn’t removed daily by brushing and flossing can eventually harden into dental calculus, or tartar. As tartar collects on the gum line, maintaining a proper, daily oral hygiene routine can become more difficult due to the build-up. As tartar, plaque and bacteria continue to develop and accumulate, the gums become swollen, red, and may even bleed during brushing or flossing. This is known as gingivitis, which is an early stage of periodontal (gum) disease. In some cases, however, gum disease may develop without these symptoms. What’s more, untreated plaque buildup can lead to tooth loss. In all situations, the negative consequences of dental plaque are severe and substantial, resulting in situations that not only detract from a patient’s quality of life but negatively impact their finances due to the procedures required to mitigate these oral health issues.
Prioritizing plaque removal means prioritizing your overall oral health. Staying on top plaque and your daily dental-cleaning routine are some of the most important ways you can help keep your mouth both clean and healthy long term. Our Orlando dentists offer the following tips for helping prevent plaque and plaque buildup on your teeth. If you have any questions about removing excess dental plaque or to schedule your next appointment, contact our office!