Many of us know that when it comes to oral hygiene, plaque is our nemesis. We brush to get rid of it and hear our dentist tell us to watch out for it, but how much do you truly know about this sticky substance? If you’ve ever been curious about what plaque is and how it may be detrimental to your oral health, read on to learn the basics of this dental health hazard!
What is plaque?
At the most basic level, plaque is a sticky, white or clear substance composed of sugars and bacteria that forms in our mouths and creates a film over our teeth. Plaque is notorious because, if left to its own devices, it is the leading cause of cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease. Plaque is also the precursor to tartar and will harden into tartar if not diligently removed daily.
What can I do about it?
Plaque is a natural part of your mouth and will build up on everyone’s teeth every day. The trick to avoiding dental issues caused by plaque is to remove it before it can cause problems. Eating and drinking introduce bacteria and sugars into our mouths that link up with our naturally occurring oral bacteria to form plaque. Due to its acidic nature, plaque will attack the enamel of the teeth and begin to wear it away, eventually leading to tooth decay and cavities. Even though this substance is constantly being formed in our mouths, it’s easy to ensure that it doesn’t cause you any oral issues! Twice daily brushing for at least two minutes will help remove plaque from the surface of your teeth. It’s crucially important to brush just before bed and avoid eating or drinking anything other than water before you sleep. Adding food or drinks to your mouth and then sleeping for eight hours will allow plaque to run rampant in your mouth and is a surefire way to develop cavities! Additionally, flossing daily will help remove the tricky plaque between your teeth that brushing alone cannot reach.
Other Tips and Tricks
While diligent brushing and flossing are the best way to keep your mouth clean and healthy, there are other ways you can ensure you’re giving yourself the best advantage to avoiding plaque buildup! Avoiding foods that have excessive amounts of sugar will help cut down on harmful acidic plaque. It’s particularly important to avoid overly sticky foods like gummy worms as these will affix themselves to the surface of teeth for hours and wreak havoc on enamel. Additionally, scheduling regular dental visits and cleanings will help to ensure your teeth are being cleaned deeply and that a professional set of eyes is monitoring how your oral health is faring!
Staying on top of plaque is one of the easiest and most critical ways you can help keep your mouth clean and healthy.
If you have questions about how to remove excess plaque from your teeth, or simply to schedule your next cleaning or appointment, give us a call at Steger Smiles today!