Plaque is a sticky, colorless film of bacteria and sugars that constantly forms on our teeth. Although it is difficult to see, it is the main cause of cavities and gum disease, and can harden into tartar (petrified plaque) if we don’t take steps to regularly combat it. Once tartar has formed, we need a dentist’s help to remove it, as it can’t be brushed off.
We all develop plaque because bacteria are constantly forming in our mouths, using ingredients found in our diet and saliva to grow. Plaque can result in cavities as acids from the plaque attack teeth after eating. With repeated acid attacks, the tooth enamel can break down and a cavity may form. Plaque that is not removed can also irritate the gums around your teeth, leading to gingivitis (red, swollen, bleeding gums), periodontal disease and tooth loss.
What then, can we do to prevent plaque from building up?
Brush thoroughly at least twice a day, taking care to reach all the surfaces of your teeth. Clean also between your teeth. Brushing doesn’t reach the spaces between teeth, but plaque does. A simple daily flossing loosens food particles between teeth and helps to reduce the chances of plaque buildup. Limiting sugary or starchy foods and sticky snacks can also help, while eating crunchy vegetables or fruits with the skin on can actually help to scrub off plaque. Eating carrots, apples, cucumbers, and many other raw fruits and vegetables, as well as drinking the recommended amounts of water will help to naturally wash plaque away. Be sure also to see your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings, as your dentist is equipped to remove plaque and tartar buildup in ways that you never could at home.
Whether your concern is with plaque or anything else, your dentist at North Burnaby Dental Group is happy to offer personalized recommendations of methods to care for your teeth based upon your individual needs.