You may be able to tell if dental plaque has built up if your teeth feel fuzzy when running your tongue over them. Preventing the sticky, colorless biofilm from becoming a problem requires biannual visits to the dentist in addition to diligent home care. Here is a guide on plaque and how to minimize its presence on your teeth and gums.
How Does Plaque Form?
Plaque is always forming in your mouth. When you consume sugary foods and beverages, the bacteria in the sticky substance go into overdrive, feeding and producing acids as a result. They erode your tooth enamel and can cause cavities if they're not removed daily. Plaque acids also irritate and break down gum tissue, contributing to gingivitis and gum disease.
If plaque has the opportunity to harden, it becomes tartar that forms under the gumline and can only be removed by a dentist. This buildup can cause gum irritation, tenderness, redness, and inflammation as it breaks the tissue down.
How Can You Treat It?
Daily brushing and flossing can treat existing plaque, as do deep cleanings by dentists. For severe plaque buildup, dental sealants and fluoride treatments can keep the biofilm from accumulating on tooth surfaces and inhibit its production.
Treatment can additionally include using an anti-tartar mouthwash every day, making diet changes to consume fewer sugary foods/beverages, and seeing a dentist more frequently for deep teeth and gum cleanings.
How Can You Prevent It?
Prevent plaque from building up and hardening into tartar by brushing your teeth twice daily for two minutes and flossing once daily. Flossing is just as important as brushing because it removes plaque and food particles under the gumline that your toothbrush cannot reach. See a dental professional twice a year for deep cleanings and checkups, and consume foods, such as carrots, celery, and apples, to reduce the amount of harmful bacteria in your mouth.
Drink six to eight cups of water per day as well to reduce plaque production. The liquid flushes food particles from your mouth and contributes to healthy saliva production, which contains acid-neutralizing enzymes in addition to removing food particles.
For help with plaque management, see Kathleen Kujiraoka, DDS, in Kaneohe, HI. This family dentist offers a full suite of general and cosmetic dentistry services using the latest technological advances that save time and improve your comfort. Call (808) 235-2121 today to schedule a cleaning, or visit the office online for new patient information.