probably heard about tooth cavities, but another problem might be lurking in
between your teeth. Tooth cavities don't form out of nowhere. Instead, cavities
start with a buildup of plaque on your teeth.
is a sticky film that plays a role in a variety of oral conditions. This clear
substance forms on your teeth each day. In fact, it starts to form as soon as
you finish eating a meal or snacking. It’s mostly on your teeth, but can also
form under the gum line.
plaque is one of your mouth’s worst enemies. This substance not only creates a
film over your teeth, it slowly damages or eats away at your tooth enamel.
Enamel is the hard surface of your teeth that protects your teeth from decay.
If you’re unable to control plaque, your enamel can’t do its job. Your risk for
cavities increase as your enamel is damaged. But the question remains, what
causes dental plaque?
Causes of Plaque
several explanations for the formation of plaque on your teeth. Basically,
plaque needs bacteria, acid, saliva, and food particles to form. You may think
your mouth is clean and healthy. But when you eat sugary foods or
carbohydrates, these foods mix with the natural bacteria in your mouth and
create an acid. This acid mixes with saliva and food particles resulting in a
sticky substance called plaque.
is clear, so it's hard to see it on your teeth. If you want to do a plaque
check, all you need to do is rub your tongue along your teeth, especially the
back of your teeth. Usually, plaque makes the teeth feel rough or slimy.
plaque occurs naturally, you can reduce this sticky substance and improve the
overall health of your mouth.
Treatment and Prevention of Plaque
to remove plaque before it starts to damage the enamel on your teeth. Because
plaque sticks to teeth, the only way to remove it is by brushing your teeth on
a regular basis. The American
Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing at least twice a day for at least two
minutes. You should also floss once per day to remove food particles stuck
between your teeth. It doesn’t take long for plaque to form after eating, so
make every effort to brush after each meal or snack. The more you brush, the
less plaque in your mouth.
toothbrushes have been proven to be most effective in removing plaque, says the
Dental Health Foundation. These toothbrushes have bristles that move in two
directions, which improves the cleaning action. Make sure you schedule regular
dental cleanings every six months. Your dentist can examine your teeth and take
X-ray images about once a year. Either your dentist or a dental hygienist
removes traces of plaque and tartar on your teeth using special dental tools.
go away, but certain habits and good oral hygiene can prevent a buildup. Along
with regular brushing, flossing, and dental visits, you can reduce plaque by
eating a balanced diet. Reduce your intake of sugar and carbohydrates. Foods to
avoid or limit include:
You can also
reduce plaque by limiting snacking between meals, especially during times when
you're not able to brush your teeth.
Complications of Plaque
everyone has plaque, it isn't a minor dental issue. Plaque that isn’t removed
is a primary cause of gum disease (periodontal disease). In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and
(CDC) reports that half of Americans have periodontal disease. Other
complications of plaque buildup include:
plaque remains on your teeth or between your teeth, the harder it is to remove
yourself. Hard plaque that you can’t remove at home is called tartar. Only a
dentist or a dental hygienist can remove tarter.