Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that coats teeth. When we eat, plaque reacts with the food in our mouth and releases acids that eat away at teeth enamel, causing tooth decay.
What is plaque?
Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that coats teeth. It consumes sugars in the foods we eat, and releases acids as a waste product. These acids slowly eat away at the enamel of teeth, if left unchecked, can cause tooth decay. Over time the plaque layer on teeth can harden to become tartar or calculus. This hard layer continues to release acids, and is even harder to remove than regular plaque. Plaque is a leading cause of gingivitis, early stage gum disease.
What causes plaque?
Plaque is naturally occurring bacteria in our mouths, and it can never be permanently eradicated. It becomes a problem when it is not regularly removed from our teeth by brushing and flossing.
What is tartar or calculus?
Tartar and calculus are both names for hardened plaque. This can be removed during a regular dental hygiene visit.
How can I prevent plaque?
You can’t prevent the formation of plaque, but there are things you can do to minimize the damage it can cause. You can fight plaque and prevent its buildup by:
- Flossing every day and brushing at least twice a day
- Using special after-brushing anti-bacterial rinses designed to fight plaque
- Limiting sweets and sugary foods
- Brushing after eating sweets and sugary foods
- Making regular dental visits
What can Dr. Patel do about plaque?
Dr. Patel will certainly advise you on how to properly brush and floss, since this is your first and best defense against plaque. During your regular visits, he or a dental hygienist will give teeth a very thorough cleaning, and use instruments to remove tartar buildup. Dr. Patel may be able to use special dental sealants on your molars, where decay often starts.