Dental Plaque

Dental Plaque 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
Dental Plaque Vs Dental 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:

    1. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, ideally after every meal. It’s extremely important to brush your teeth often in order to keep them cleared of dental plaque. You should always brush your teeth in the morning and at night before going to bed, but it’s even more ideal to brush your teeth after every meal in order to keep any food particles from sitting on the surface of the tooth and around the gum line for too long.
    2. Use the right kind of toothpaste. Contrary to popular belief, all toothpaste is not the same. Different toothpastes have different ingredients in them. In order to rid your teeth of dental plaque, it’s best to use a toothpaste that contains fluoride, a plaque-fighting ingredient. Not only does fluoride help remove plague from the teeth, but it also provides a protective barrier that helps to keep it reforming upon the surface of the tooth.
    3. Use proper brushing technique. When you brush your teeth, don’t brush left to right, as many people are wont to do. Instead, brush up and down and in circles upon the surface of the tooth. This better helps ensure that you reach the gum line, which is one of the places where dental plaque is most prone to forming.
    4. Floss at least once a day. Flossing is important because when you eat, food particles are prone to getting caught between the teeth in areas that you can’t reach with a toothbrush alone. Flossing helps you remove those pent-up food particles so that they aren’t allowed to sit and fester along the gum line.
    5. Maintain a healthy diet. Not only is maintaining a healthy diet important to the state of your overall health, but it’s especially important to the state of your oral health. Limiting the amounts of foods that you eat that are high in sugars, carbohydrates and acids will decrease the amount of food that the bacteria in your mouth will have to feed off of and form harmful acids with. Eating a well-balanced diet high in fruits, vegetables and protein can help neutralize the bacteria in your mouth. Plus, certain types of health foods, such as celery, can even help neutralize any plaque-causing acids that are already present in your mouth.
    6. Consider a dental sealant. Dental sealants are thin, plastic coatings that are painted onto the surface of the tooth to help protect them from the dental plaque buildup that can eventually lead to tartar formation. If you fear that your brushing and other oral hygiene habits aren’t sufficient enough to keep dental plaque at bay or you simply want to take an extra precautionary measure, then a dental sealant might be right for you. A dentist must apply a dental sealant to your teeth if you decided to go that route.
    7. Adhere to regular dental checkups and examinations. Like everything else, it’s best to catch any adverse dental condition early on when they are just forming than it is to wait and find out about them once they have become so progressed that it will prove difficult to fix them. That’s why it’s so important to schedule your annual dental checkups and examinations. Not only can your dentist regularly evaluate your teeth for any arising dental conditions, but he or she can also professionally clean them, offering them a deeper clean than you can give them on your own at home.

Colgate. “What is plaque?” Retrieved on February 7, 2017, from

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National Center for Biotechnology Information. “Dental plaque formation.” Retrieved on February 7, 2017, from

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