What is Plaque?

You have a lot of plaque build up.

The plaque on your teeth has calcified.

If you don’t floss, the plaque between your teeth can cause cavities.

You’ve probably heard negative things about plaque from your dentist your entire life. Plaque this, plaque that, it’s bad, get rid of it. You’ve heard it many times, and you may be tuning it out now when your dentist tells you that you have a plaque build up. Honestly, we don’t blame you. Understanding what plaque is though may help motivate you to keep it at bay as much as possible, and also help you understand how to keep the plaque build up at a minimum.

What is Plaque?

Plaque = Bacteria

That’s the simple answer, at least. Really, plaque is a sticky film that contains bacteria. These bacteria use the sugars in your food to produce enzymes that are harmful to the enamel of your teeth, making teeth more susceptible to decay. That’s why your teeth may feel like they’re wearing extra “sweaters” after eating a lot of sugar. Sugar helps plaque grow.

Why is Plaque Harmful

Plaque is harmful because those enzymes that the bacteria make cause the enamel of your tooth to weaken. The enamel is the outer layer of your tooth, which protects all of the internal tissues and nerves from decay. When enamel is broken down, decay can set in quickly, especially in the presence of refined sugars. Plaque which is not brushed or flossed away causes a tartar build up, which is a hard, calcified substance. Underneath the tartar, decay can still occur on the tooth where your toothbrush and floss can’t reach. This is why it’s so important to brush often and not skip your 6 month cleaning at the dentist. If plaque and tartar aren’t removed, there can be serious dental health consequences!

Preventing Plaque

  • Use disclosing tablets to spot plaque
  • Brush after every meal
  • Rinse your mouth with water, especially after sugary snacks
  • Floss at least once per day
  • Limit your sugar intake

Contact us today to learn more about preventive dental care!

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