Dental plaque can be a problematic substance that forms on the surface of teeth. Without preventing and cleaning it off, it can build up and lead to tooth decay and other oral health concerns.
By having a full understanding of what dental plaque is, you can know exactly how to prevent it from placing your oral health in jeopardy.
Dental plaque can be annoying, but it does not have to exist for long if properly treated in a timely manner.
The following is everything important to know about dental plaque, including what it is, why it is harmful and how it can be prevented.
What is dental plaque?
Dental plaque is a sticky film that collects on the surface of teeth as a result of an accumulation of bacteria found in the mouth and carbohydrates found in food and drinks.
Dental plaque forms when the sugar, starch and other harmful substances found in foods and drinks combines with the bacteria naturally found in our mouth. When the two combine, they form an acid that exists inside the plaque substance, which is typically colorless and can be felt by our tongue or fingertips.
Why is dental plaque harmful?
The acidic nature of the bacteria found in dental plaque can eat away at tooth enamel, which can lead to tooth decay. The enamel on our teeth does not grow back, so when enamel erosion occurs as a result of dental plaque, it cannot be naturally replaced and can lead to more serious oral health concerns if the cavity is left untreated.
Additionally, dental plaque can accumulate on the gums and gum line, causing gum damage and can even affect the tooth roots underneath the gums.
What causes dental plaque?
As mentioned, dental plaque occurs when harmful substances found in food, drinks, medications, etc. combine with the bacteria in our mouth. Subsequently, the leading cause of dental plaque is a failure to practice good oral hygiene, which allows the bacteria and other substances to accumulate and cause dental plaque.
Also, sugar and starch are two of the most harmful substances found in food and drinks that lead to dental plaque, although there are numerous substances that can also lead to plaque buildup.
How can dental plaque be prevented?
Fortunately, dental plaque can be prevented, or at least controlled, to ensure it does not lead to oral health complications, such as cavities, gum disease and bone loss.
Here are the best ways to prevent dental plaque from becoming an issue:
- Use fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash
- Avoid harmful foods and drinks
- Be mindful of medications taken
- Visit the dentist regularly
The best way to prevent dental plaque is to practice good oral hygiene, which includes brushing several times each day and flossing at least once a day. Also, using fluoride can help strengthen the enamel, which helps fight off acidic attacks. If dental plaque becomes an issue regardless of the precautions taken, a antibacterial mouthwash may be beneficial.