Dental plaque is a sticky, mostly colorless substance that builds up on the surface of your teeth and hardens over time. It is made up mainly of bacteria and food debris trapped in your mouth. The buildup can cause bad breath, tooth decay, gum disease, and cavities. Dental plaque is one of the leading causes of oral health problems in people around the world.
What Causes Dental Plaque?
Dental plaque is caused by the breakdown of the acid-producing bacteria that reside in your mouth. These bacteria break down food foods left behind after meals and digest them. As the undigested food reaches your gum line, it attracts more bacteria, which in turn eat more food and produce more waste. Over time, this creates a sticky layer on your teeth’s surfaces. This plaque is dislodged and spread between your teeth and gums when you brush or floss.
How Can I Get Rid of it?
The best way to remove dental plaque is by brushing and flossing your teeth twice daily. You should also rinse your mouth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day and use an interdental brush to clean between your teeth. If you are having trouble reaching all of the plaque, consult with your dentist about using special hand instruments designed to scrape away the buildup.
What are the Risks of Plaque Buildup?
People who have a lot of dental plaque on their teeth are at higher risk of developing decay. Decaying is hard to see a hole in your tooth’s enamel, leading to pain and infection in your gums and tooth. The bacteria that cause plaque also love the acidic environment around teeth. They may produce more acid with poor oral hygiene when growing on teeth. Acidic foods can also cause an increase in bacteria that then produce even more plaque and gum disease. Plaque buildup can cause complications like Tooth decay, Abscesses, Gingivitis (Gum Disease), and periodontal disease.
Bacteria in plaque may also cause heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. Plaque buildup can also contribute to bad breath by trapping food between your teeth. In extreme cases, dental plaque buildup can cause cavities that spread into supporting structures of the tooth and destroy it from the inside out. It can even enlarge your jawline and cause excessive teeth grinding at night as you sleep.
How Long Does Dental Plaque Last?
Dental plaque is a living microorganism that can grow for several days before dislodging. Once it is dislodged, it won’t come back for about 24 hours. The time it takes for dental plaque to form depends on how often you brush and floss your teeth and your diet. A dental plaque will take longer to form if you are diligent about brushing and flossing your teeth than if you don’t practice good oral hygiene.
How Do I Manage and Treat Plaque?
Brush and floss your teeth twice a day. Use a fluoride toothpaste recommended by your dentist and add mouthwash with fluoride to all your oral care products. If you can’t brush or floss, use an electric toothbrush to at least shake off the plaque between your teeth and gum lines.
Rinse with a fluoride mouthwash twice daily to help dislodge bacteria and food between your teeth. Use an interdental brush (or a thin piece of floss) to clean between your teeth. If you have trouble reaching some of the plaque, buy a dental pick and ask your dentist to clean them.
If your gums start bleeding during or after brushing, you likely have gum disease and should talk to your dentist about treatments. Arrange for a professional cleaning every six months and avoid deep cleaning before your appointment.
How Do I Prevent Plaque?
1. Use mouth wash – a rinse 3 – 4 times daily to help dislodge plaque.
2. Use tongue cleaner or a toothbrush with soft bristles to remove the plaque between teeth and gum lines.
3. Floss every day
4. Brush your teeth after every meal
5. Use an electric toothbrush as recommended by your dentist
6. Visit your dentist for a professional cleaning every 6 months
7. Drink lots of water daily to reduce the number of bacteria in your mouth
Plaque is a sticky, colorless film that builds up on the surface of your teeth and hardens over time. The buildup can cause bad breath, cavities, tooth decay, gum disease, and other complications. Plaque is among the leading causes of oral health problems in people in the world. Tartar builds up on your teeth and is made of dead bacteria and food debris trapped in your mouth. Plaque buildup can cause gingivitis, gum disease, and other oral health problems.