What Is Dental Plaque and How To Treat It?
Plaque is a sticky, colorless layer of bacteria that builds up between your teeth and gums. The bacteria feed on carbohydrates and produce acids that destroy your tooth enamel and develop cavities and other dental problems.
What Are The Causes Of Dental Plaque?
When the saliva and food mix in your mouth, an environment suitable for bacteria is produced. The bacteria grows and deposits where your teeth and gums meet in this environment. Foods with high carbohydrates and simple sugars, such as sucrose and starches, contribute to plaque buildup. You can find these materials in cakes, sweets, fruit, candy, and soft drinks.
Also Read: Best & Worst Food For Your Teeth
What Are The Symptoms Of Dental Plaque?
Plaque can be pale yellow or can be colorless. You can even spot the early signs of plaque if you get a fuzzy feeling on your teeth. Other indicators include:
- Chronic bad breath (halitosis)
- Red, tender or swollen gums
- Bleeding gums after brushing
What Complications Can Be Caused Due To Plaque?
It is only a matter of time before the plaque on your teeth hardens into tartar. If you do not correctly curb plaque, you will undergo various complications. These complications include:
Tooth Decay & Cavities: Tooth decay is the erosion of the outer layer of your teeth – the enamel, causing tooth decay, leading to cavities. Cavities are tiny openings in the enamel caused by the acids produced by plaque bacteria.
Gingivitis & Periodontitis
Plaque accumulation on your gums triggers an immune response, later destroying the gingival or gum tissues, leading to gingivitis and other periodontal diseases.
Untreated cavities can lead to severe plaque buildup. With time, the excess plaque bacteria will eat away your tooth, which will cause tooth decay. If you leave the tooth decay untreated, it will lead to tooth abscess.
What are the Steps to Prevent Dental Plaque?
Taking good care of your oral hygiene is the key to preventing plaque buildup. Keep these key steps into consideration:
Brush Twice a Day
Take a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Brush your teeth gently for two minutes. Do not brush abrasively, or you are more likely to damage your tooth enamel. Brush twice a day, after every meal.
Take a dental or a water flosser and floss your teeth once a day after your meal. Flossing will get rid of food particles, and plaque stuck between your teeth. Various studies suggest that flossing before brushing your teeth removes more plaque.
After brushing and flossing your teeth, use mouthwash to ensure that your mouth is free from any remaining bacteria. Use an over-the-counter or prescription-based antiseptic mouthwash for best results.
Cut back on foods and drinks that contain excess carbohydrates, sugar, and starch. Follow a healthy diet and include nutritious foods and snacks such as plain yogurt, cheese, raw vegetables, or fruit in your diet.
Sugarless Chewing Gums
If you cannot brush or floss immediately after eating, try chewing sugarless gums. Look for chewing gums with the American Dental Association (ADA) tag.
Regular Dental Check-ups
It is recommended that you see your dentist at least twice a year to ensure that your teeth are free from any dental problems that will lead to severe circumstances.
How to Treat Dental Plaque?
Maintaining excellent oral hygiene is the best way to treat dental plaque. Brush and floss your teeth regularly to get rid of plaque and prevent tartar buildup.
If regular brushing and flossing are ineffective, consult your dentist. Your dentist will scrape plaque and tartar from your teeth during the dental examination. They might also recommend some other dental treatments to take care of plaque. These treatments may include:
Dental sealant is a thin, plastic coating painted on the surface of your back teeth. They will immediately bond into the shape of your teeth and form a protective shield on your teeth to prevent them from plaque buildup.
Dry Mouth Medications
Since the bacteria produced by plaque is acidic, your dentist might recommend a few dry mouth medications to neutralize the harmful acids.
Fluoride is a natural mineral that strengthens your teeth and keeps cavities and other dental issues at bay. It supports healthy tooth enamel and fights the plaque bacteria that harm your teeth and gums.
If your plaque hardens into tartar, treating it at home will get more challenging for you. Here, you will need the assistance of a dental professional. Visit your dentist as soon as you see tartar buildup and prevent any major problems in the future.
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Dr. Anu Isaac, DMD, runs a successful dental practice in Salem, MA. Dr. Isaac strives for quality daily and this commitment to quality is reflected in her constant pursuit of advanced training. Her firm belief that even experts need to stay updated about what’s new in the dental field, enables her to provide every patient with optimal oral care. As the founder of Coral Dental Care, she is dedicated to creating healthy, beautiful smiles for her patients and also to educating dental and non-dental communities with her engaging articles on all things related to oral health, recent dental innovations, and the latest treatment modalities.