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Since plaque grows throughout the day and night, the most effective treatment is brushing and flossing.

What is Plaque

Plaque is a term used by dentists to refer to a soft, sticky film-like substance that can build up on your teeth. This film contains millions of bacteria that can cause tooth decay (cavities), gum disease, bad breath, and other dental ailments. The most common and easiest treatment for plaque is brushing and flossing. Brushing and flossing on a daily basis (using the proper technique) is an effective means of removing plaque from your teeth before it can cause any damage.

How does plaque damage your teeth?

The bacteria present in plaque produce acids that slowly dissolve tooth enamel. This acid is produced through a conversion process that relies on the sugars present in your food. Diets heavy in sugar (e.g. eating too many sweets) can result in more damage occurring to your teeth. As the enamel is broken down further, a hole will begin to develop in the tooth. This hole is called a cavity, and it must be treated by a trained dentist.

What happens if I don’t brush or floss often enough?

As the plaque builds up, it slowly hardens into tartar. Tartar typically builds up around the gum line, since the gum line is the most commonly missed area during brushing and flossing. As this tartar builds up, the gum tissue will begin to become inflamed. The gum tissue will begin appearing more red than usual, potentialy swollen, and the gums will typically bleed while brushing your teeth. This is a sign of gingivitis, which is a lesser (but still important) form of periodontal disease (gum disease).

If you’ve noticed these symptoms in yourself or your children, please give us a call or schedule your appointment online. Treatment for gingivitis is simple and effective, but treatment for periodontal disease can take years.

How do I protect my teeth from plaque?

Identifying plaque can be difficult in minor cases. Large plaque deposits typically appear as a white dot on or between your teeth. A disclosing tablet (can be purchased at any pharmacy or online) can be used to identify plaque deposits. These special tablets will dye the plaque a specific color (typically red, blue, or black depending upon the brand). By staining the plaque, it becomes much easier to manually remove the plaque using a toothbrush and some floss. You simply brush until the colored deposits are no longer present on any of your teeth.

Since plaque grows throughout the day and night, the most effective treatment is brushing and flossing. Brush twice a day (using a soft-bristled toothbrush preferably so as to not damage your gums) with toothpaste. Floss once a day before bed. Flossing is one of the most important preventive treatments for gingivitis and periodontal disease.

Mouth wash alone cannot treat plaque, nor can it prevent the development of gum disease. It is an effective secondary measure, but it cannot be relied upon.

Additionally, you want to ensure that you are eating a balanced diet regularly, avoiding unnecessary or unhealthy snacks (high sugars), and you should visit your dentist at least once a year (preferablly every six months) for a professional cleaning and oral exam.

If you have any questions, or would like to schedule an appointment at our office, please don’t hesitate to contact us.