You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t have dental plaque — everyone experiences it. In a nutshell, dental plaque is formed by bacteria in your mouth that build up on your teeth — particularly after mixing with starch or sugar-laden foods. In a healthy mouth, the biofilm (called dental plaque) and the tissues around it maintain a delicate balance. But as we will see, changes that can occur in your mouth’s environment can trigger plaque to produce substances that are detrimental to your oral health.
Regular checkups with a dentist, as well as proper dental hygiene, can help remove plaque and protect your teeth and gums from problems associated with dental plaque.
Dental plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that can cover your teeth. After you eat or drink, these bacteria can produce acids that erode tooth enamel and can contribute to tooth decay and gum disease. When plaque forms on the roots of your teeth under the gum line, it can actually break down the underlying bones and weaken the structure of your teeth.
If plaque is left untreated, it will eventually harden into tartar, which is a yellow or brown mineral deposit that cannot be removed at home. About 68% of adults have tartar, and some people find that tartar buildup increases with age, so keeping up with your dental visits is critical for a lifetime of clean, healthy teeth.
Plaque and tartar can be at the root of many dental problems, including:
While you can manage some of these issues through dental intervention, they all pose risks to your oral health and even your overall health. In addition, dealing with these types of dental problems can be time-consuming, costly, and in some cases, even painful.
Dental plaque is an easily managed issue that can become a big problem for your teeth if you let it get out of hand. If you want to prevent the overgrowth of plaque and formation of tartar and keep your smile healthy and bright, consider adding the following steps to your daily routine:
In a best-case scenario, you should brush your teeth after every meal to remove any plaque that has formed while you are eating. However, you should at least brush twice each day — once in the morning and again before you go to bed at night. That night-time brushing is really important because any plaque that is not removed before bedtime will be left on your teeth all night long.
When it comes to toothbrushes, softer is better since hard-bristled brushes can harm delicate gum tissue. Ideally, one toothbrush should last about three to four months before needing to be replaced. If the head of your toothbrush looks worn, it can’t do a good job of plaque removal.
Believe it or not, there is a right way to brush your teeth. Besides using a brush with soft bristles, be sure that the shape of your brush is the right size for your mouth and allows you to reach all the spaces. Then follow these simple steps:
Remember to use dental floss, dental picks, water flossers, or other flossing tools after you brush. Floss can reach those tight, in-between tooth spaces that a brush can’t reach. Flossing helps remove food particles and plaque that get stuck between teeth and under your gum line for better overall oral hygiene.
For some people, an antibacterial mouthwash can help loosen and remove plaque, especially if you are cavity prone. However, mouthwashes that contain alcohol can contribute to dry mouth, which can also lead to more difficult buildups of plaque. Talk to your dentist about whether mouthwash is a good addition to your oral hygiene routine and which one they recommend.
It seems like a no-brainer but seeing your dentist for twice-yearly cleanings and checkups is one of the best ways to stay ahead of plaque formation and ensure a healthy smile. If you suffer from issues such as dry mouth, are cavity-prone, or have other chronic diseases that can affect the health of your teeth, you may wish to schedule more frequent visits with your dentist.
In addition to assessing the overall health of your mouth, your dentist has special tools that can help clean plaque from hard-to-reach spots like those second molars or under the gumline. Having visits every six months can help your dentist determine if your current tooth hygiene program is on target or if you have to step it up a bit to keep your teeth and gums healthier.
Dental plaque might be common, but it does not have to be something that keeps you from having a healthy, beautiful smile. At Dentist of Torrance, Dr. Omid and his associates specialize in excellent patient care, helping our patients establish good oral hygiene habits that can last a lifetime and preserve your teeth for many years to come.
If you’re in the Torrance area, we offer flexible appointments at our Hawthorne Boulevard location so you can fit those routine cleaning and hygiene checks into your busy schedule easily and conveniently.
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