Dental plaque is a biofilm or mass of bacteria that grows on surfaces within the mouth. It is a sticky colourless deposit at first, but when it forms tartar, it is often brown or pale yellow. It can develop on teeth above the gum line (supragingival), below the gum line on the roots of teeth (subgingival) and along the gum line (gingival).
Signs & Symptoms of Plaque Build-up
That is why preventing plaque build-up and paying attention to plaque removal is so critical.
It is hard escaping plaque but, as you will read, the build-up can be prevented. Everyone develops plaque because bacteria are constantly growing in our mouths, so it is not easy to see. Plaque that is not removed from around the gum line can cause inflammation and irritation to the gums around your teeth.
Questions And Answers About Plaque
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 mouth thrive on these foods, producing acids as a result. Over time, these acids destroy tooth enamel, resulting in tooth decay. Plaque can also develop on the tooth roots under the gum and cause a breakdown of the bone supporting the tooth.
How do you get plaque off your teeth?
- A good rule of thumb is: Floss, floss, floss. No matter how good you are with a toothbrush, dental floss is the only way to remove plaque between your teeth and keep tartar out of these hard-to-reach areas. You can also use an interdental brush instead of or in addition to flossing.
- Rinse daily. Use an antiseptic mouthwash daily to help kill bacteria that cause plaque.
Ask us at Forest & Ray 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.
We will recommend that you 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.
Remember also that professional care is important. Visit your Forest & Ray dental professional twice yearly for a thorough cleaning. That—along with the suggestions above --will keep your teeth healthy and preserve your beautiful smile.