Dental Plaque

Nearly every dental commercial includes some type of warning about the dangers of plague build up. While many of us have heard about dental plaque since we were children, not everyone understands exactly what plaque is and why it’s bad for teeth.

What is Dental Plaque

Dental plaque consists of small micro organisms and bacteria. This invisible film is very sticky and it adheres to teeth layer after layer, both above and below the gum line. When dental plaque isn’t removed it hardens, becoming tartar.

Dental Plaque Buildup

Whenever you eat, plaque bacteria release an acid. That acid decays the hard enamel on your teeth, particularly near the gum line and in between each tooth. Over time, this leads to cavities and decay. Additionally plaque along the gum line contributes to the development of gingivitis, gum disease, bleeding gums, bone loss and overall tooth sensitivity.

Removing Dental Plaque

People who are diligent about brushing their teeth two times a day with fluoride toothpaste, and flossing, help keep their teeth healthy. Brushing removes plaque fairly effectively. However, when gums start to bleed or get inflamed then professional assistance from a dentist is important. These are the first signs of gingivitis and periodontal disease.

People who have a lot of plaque built up above and below the gum line may have to have a special procedure called scaling to remove the layers and return the gums to a healthy state. The most serious cases require a root plane that removes that buildup from the root area and gums. 

Oral Health and You

Recent studies show us that having healthy teeth improves your body’s overall health. Individuals who have gum disease are at a higher risk for heart attacks, stroke, diabetes and cardiovascular disease because of the bacteria in plaque. Dental plaque may lead to gum infections. When these are treated with antibiotics, the body better controls its blood sugar levels.

This is why periodontal disease is considered a diabetic complication. During pregnancy women whose dental plaque build up has turned into periodontal disease run the risk of pre-term babies or low birth weight babies. Beyond this, there is now some evidence that periodontal disease can lead to chronic respiratory conditions and infections like pneumonia.

How Common is it?

The American Dental Association says that 50% of individuals between 18 and 35 have mild to severe plaque build up, and/or gum disease.

Plaque Prevention

Scaling and root plane procedures are uncomfortable. To avoid having to go through this process, it’s important to be diligent with daily brushing with fluoride toothpaste as well as seeing your dentist regularly for cleanings and thorough checkups. The American Dental Association says that seeing your dentist every six months is best for good oral health.

There are a variety of good toothbrushes on the market, electric being more successful than manual for fostering oral health. You can also get dental plaque disclosing tablets to help you find plaque and see how well you’re brushing your teeth.

Additionally don’t forget that your diet plays a role in oral health too. Eat nutritious foods and keep the sweets regulated.

There are dental plaque disclosing tablets, and solution stains which are used to detect the plaque by staining that region indicating the presence of plaque. Use them regularly to check the presence or absence of plaque and seeing how clean your teeth are.


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