There’s a reason why it’s important to brush and floss your teeth every day. Seeing to the state of your oral health is a vital part of seeing to the state of your overall health. Not only does your dental condition affect your self-esteem and, thereby, you emotional and mental health, but certain dental conditions can have physical side effects that make you physically ill, affecting the sate of your physical health. Keeping your teeth clear of dental plaque is one of the most important tasks that you’re faced with when it comes to attending to your oral health
What Is Dental Plaque?
Almost everyone has heard of dental plaque, but you may or may not know what it actually is. Although you might know that it’s something that you don’t want on your teeth, you might not actually realize what it is or why you don’t want it on the surface of your tooth. In short, dental plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on the teeth. It is colorless, so you can’t always see it when it’s present, but, if allowed to sit and formulate on the gum line, then it can lead to the progression of more serious dental conditions and diseases. Some of the most common types of dental issues that arise when you don’t properly remove the dental plaque from your teeth include the formation of cavities, other tooth decay and the development of gum disease, also known as gingivitis or periodontal disease.
Causes of Dental Plaque
Dental plaque is caused by the formation of bacteria. Most of that bacteria comes from the food that we eat. Foods high in sugars, carbohydrates and acids, such as milk, candy, potatoes, soft drinks and more, are especially known to contribute to the formation of plaque. The reason for this is because there is a certain amount of bacteria that lives within your mouth naturally, and this is necessary since that bacteria helps control odors in the mouth and performs a variety of other functions as well. However, when that bacteria is allowed to mingle with food particles that have been left on the teeth, then the bacteria feeds off those food particles and produces acid as a result. That acid eats away the enamel of the tooth, destroying its surface and leading to decay. If it can destroy the tooth, a piece of bone, in such a way, you can just imagine what it can do to the soft tissues of the gum line. If allowed to get underneath the tooth and into the roots, then it can break down the underlying bone structure supporting the tooth as well.
Signs of Dental Plaque
How will you know if you have dental plaque? The simple answer to that question is that you will almost always have some degree of dental plaque on your teeth in the mornings upon waking. If you’ve ever flicked your tongue across your teeth in the morning and noticed that “fuzzy” texture on your teeth, then that is plaque. Because plaque is colorless, you can’t see it, but because it’s also filmy, you can certainly feel it on your teeth. Brushing your teeth regularly as soon as you notice plaque is the best way to remove it. In fact, dental plaque comes off quite easily when you catch it early enough, such as when it has just developed on the surface of the tooth. If you neglect to brush your teeth, then that dental plaque will morph into an even bigger dental problem known as tartar.
Difference Between Dental Plaque and Tartar
Contrary to popular belief, dental plaque and dental tartar are two different conditions, although the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. Whereas dental plaque refers to the colorless film of bacteria that forms on the surface of the tooth, dental tartar refers to the condition that occurs when dental plaque has been allowed to sit up on the teeth for an extended period of time. When dental plaque is allowed to sit on the surface of the tooth, it begins to calcify and harden, oftentimes taking on a yellowish, stained-looking color. That is when dental plaque becomes dental tartar. Unlike dental plaque, dental tartar is much more difficult to remove and almost always requires professional removal from a dentist. Dental tartar is most often seen around the gum line area where many people neglect to brush their teeth thoroughly and properly.
How to Prevent Dental Plaque
The best way to deal with dental plaque is to adopt healthy dental habits that prevent the formation of it in the first place. Although a certain degree of dental plaque will always form on your teeth, with enough diligence and practice of good oral hygiene, you can combat plaque, keeping it at bay so that it doesn’t have the chance to morph into the more serious condition that is dental tartar. The following tips can help you to prevent dental plaque buildup:
Colgate. “What is plaque?” Retrieved on February 7, 2017, from http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/conditions/plaque-and-tartar/article/what-is-plaque.
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National Center for Biotechnology Information. “Dental plaque formation.” Retrieved on February 7, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11113379.
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