Plaque is a sticky film that is constantly forming on the teeth. When you eat or drink, the bacteria in the foods reacts with the saliva and releases acids. The bacteria and acids then stick to the teeth as plaque. While plaque is natural and continuously occurring, it’s important to remove it to keep the teeth and body healthy.
Tartar Build Up
If plaque isn’t removed from the teeth quickly after it forms, it hardens into tartar and is more difficult to remove. It’s necessary to get a professional cleaning in order to completely remove tartar and prevent further build up. If not removed, tartar build up can deteriorate the enamel of the teeth, irritate the gums, and potentially cause health problems.
Early Issues from Plaque Build Up
When plaque first begins to build up, it can cause the teeth to appear yellow and the breath to smell bad. As the plaque builds up under the gums where it’s difficult to reach with a tooth brush or floss, the gums may begin to appear red and inflamed. These early symptoms of gum disease may progress and worsen if the plaque is not cleaned from the teeth.
Gum Disease and Health Problems
If gum disease progresses to irreversible stages, it may begin to deteriorate the gums and tissue of the mouth and eventually the bone. Gum disease also increases the risks for health conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, and dementia.
While the links between plaque and these conditions isn’t completely understood, the inflammation in the body caused by plaque is thought to weaken the immune system. It’s also suspected that bacteria from the mouth may enter the blood stream and cause injury to the organs and tissue.
Preventing Plaque Build Up
The best way to prevent plaque buildup is to remove it within a few hours. If you brush after meals or at least twice per day, you should be able to remove the majority of the plaque while it’s still soft and accessible. Flossing can reach plaque that is stuck between the teeth.
Receiving dental cleanings once every six months can remove the plaque that has hardened into calculus, along with any plaque that has been missed that hasn’t yet hardened. However, dental cleanings shouldn’t be the only time that plaque is being removed. Plaque can build up quickly without daily home oral care, biannual professional cleanings should be seen as supplementary care, not a substitute for good practices.
If you have any questions about how to better remove plaque and care for your teeth, call 407-898-3471 and speak to a dental professional.