Everybody has plaque and it’s that sticky film that gradually builds up over the surface of your teeth. If it has been quite a few hours since you last brushed, you might even be able to feel it when you run your tongue over your teeth.
What is Plaque?
Plaque is a biofilm that contains lots of different substances that includes glycoproteins and many types of bacteria. Some of these bacteria are benign and will not cause any harm, while others are not so good for your dental health. Plaque begins forming on your tooth surfaces soon after you have cleaned your teeth, as well as on the surfaces of any dental appliances. If you have crowns, bridges, dental implants or dentures or braces, plaque will form over these surfaces.
How Does Plaque Form?
Plaque begins forming soon after you have brushed your teeth. Initially, a dental pellicle will form over the tooth surface. This is essentially a layer of saliva and it contains those glycoproteins we mentioned a moment ago. This layer allows bacteria to begin attaching themselves to the pellicle. Over the next few hours, their numbers will gradually increase and these bacteria will even begin forming micro-colonies. The reason why bacteria can thrive in your mouth is partly due to the food you eat, especially if you have a diet that is high in sugary and carbohydrate-rich foods. This includes foods such as cookies and candy, chips and even milk. All these foods leave a thin layer over your teeth, providing a great meal for your bacteria. As they feed, these bacteria produce toxins and acid. These toxins and acid will infect your gums and will weaken your teeth, increasing your risk of gum disease and tooth decay.
How Can Plaque Cause Tooth Decay?
Tooth decay is frequently caused by a particular strain of bacteria found in plaque which is called Streptococcus mutans. As these bacteria thrive and multiply on food particles, they create acid which attacks the tooth surfaces during a process called demineralization. This has the effect of removing some minerals such as calcium and phosphorus from the tooth enamel. The overall impact of demineralization is to weaken and soften the tooth enamel, making it more vulnerable to tooth decay. Immediately after you eat something very sugary or starchy, your mouth becomes more acidic, thanks to these bacteria. This effect will last for up to an hour before a process called remineralization begins.
Demineralization and Remineralization and Acid Erosion
During this process, some of the minerals removed from your teeth are redeposited, helping to at least partially reverse the effects of the acid. Unfortunately, it will not completely reverse the damage caused by this acid and repeated exposure results in a condition called acid erosion. This is why cavities can develop in your teeth as the acid literally eats away the tooth enamel.
Reduce the Risk of Acid Erosion by Limiting Snacking
Acid erosion is one of the reasons why we strongly suggest limiting snacking in between meals. The less frequently you snack, the less your teeth and gums are exposed to acid. If you do want to snack in between meals then it can help to choose foods that are less likely to have this effect. These include hard cheese and crunchy fruits and vegetables that are high water and fiber. The high water content helps to wash away excess bacteria, while the fibrous quality of fruits and veggies has a slight scrubbing action on your teeth.
How Does Plaque Cause Gum Disease?
Gum disease or periodontal disease is an extremely serious infection that is caused by certain bacteria in plaque. One of the real problems with periodontal disease is its inflammatory nature. When your body has an infection, it produces antibodies to try to fight it. It does exactly the same thing with periodontal disease but unfortunately, this causes inflammation. This inflammation is the reason why periodontal disease can destroy your gum tissue as well as other structures surrounding your teeth. These include the ligaments that are stretchy connective tissues and which hold your teeth in their sockets. Periodontal disease will also gradually destroy the bone surrounding your teeth.
Please Don’t Ignore the Early Signs of Periodontal Disease
One of the main problems with periodontal disease is the lack of symptoms during the early stages. Often if there are any symptoms then they are very subtle and easily ignored. If you notice your gums have begun to bleed when you brush or floss then please act immediately. Healthy gums should not bleed and a checkup at our dental clinic can soon diagnose the problem. If it is gum disease, we can quickly treat it, hopefully well before it becomes chronic.
Here at Avery’s Creek Family Dentistry, we want to make sure you don’t develop periodontal disease. This is why we encourage regular checkups and dental cleanings with our local dentist. Is your checkup overdue? Call us today to book your appointment.
Preventing Plaque from Building up Up Over Your Teeth
Along with regular dental appointments, good daily oral hygiene is the best way to prevent plaque from building up over your tooth surfaces. It’s essential to make sure you brush and floss regularly as unfortunately plaque has another unwelcome quality. If you don’t thoroughly remove plaque at regular intervals, it can quickly harden into tartar or calculus. This can happen within just a couple of days. Calculus is a very hard and almost crusty yellowish deposit that normally builds up around the margin where your teeth meet your gums. It can look quite unattractive and can only be removed during a hygiene appointment. You cannot brush away calculus. This is because calculus has to be scaled or scraped away from your teeth. All the time it remains in your teeth, calculus will produce toxins and acid, affecting your teeth and gums.
Good Oral Hygiene Is Simple and Straightforward
With regular brushing and flossing, you should easily be able to keep plaque levels under control. Aim to brush your teeth at least twice a day and the best time to do so is first thing in the morning and last thing at night. If you want to brush after eating, just wait for half an hour to an hour as this allows the acidity levels in your mouth to return to normal. Letting your acidity levels reduce helps to minimize the damage caused to your teeth.
Plaque Disclosing Tablets Help You Visualize Areas You’ve Missed
It can be tricky to see if you have removed all the plaque from your tooth surfaces. One way to check is to run your tongue over your teeth to see if they feel smooth and clean, but this isn’t very accurate. Another more effective way is to buy some plaque disclosing tablets. These release a colored dye that sticks to plaque, making it easy to see any areas you have missed. It is a quick and easy way to check you are brushing thoroughly. It is impossible to prevent plaque from gradually building up over your teeth as it’s something everyone has. However, keeping your plaque levels under control is the best, easiest and most cost-effective way to look after your teeth and gums. As a side effect of keeping plaque at bay, your breath is likely to be fresher
Don’t Forget to Ask Us for Help
When you come to see the best dentist here at Avery’s Creek Family Dentistry, be sure to ask us for help. We are all passionate about patient education and there’s lots of information we can give you about teeth cleaning. During your dental cleaning, we can identify any areas you might be missing when brushing and flossing. We can help improve your techniques for cleaning your teeth. Our local dentist knows lots of people loathe flossing, but there are lots of things you can try so please just ask us. We can show you all sorts of different things such as interdental brushes and soft picks and we can discuss using water flossers. These kinds of tools can be very useful if you have limited dexterity that makes flossing somewhat tricky.
If it’s been a while since you had your teeth professionally cleaned then please don’t put it off any longer. A dental cleaning will help your dental health and will give your smile an added sparkle.
Call Us Today on (828)-676-2144
Avery’s Creek Family Dentistry serves Avery’s Creek, Arden, Ashville, Oak Park, Fletcher, Royal Pines, Biltmore Park, Biltmore Forest, Bent Creek, Fairview, Beaverdam, Candler, Naples, Mills River, Enka Village, Woodside Hills and the Buncombe County area.
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