Plaque is a soft, sticky film that builds up on your teeth and contains millions of bacteria. The bacteria in plaque can cause gum disease and tooth decay if they are not removed regularly. When you eat, the bacteria in plaque uses the sugar in your food to create acids that eat away at tooth enamel. Repeated attacks cause the enamel to break down resulting in a cavity. Plaque that is not removed daily by brushing and flossing between teeth can eventually harden into tartar. Brushing and flossing become more difficult as tartar collects at the gum line. As the tartar, plaque and bacteria continue to increase, the gum tissue can become red, swollen and possibly bleed when you brush your teeth. This is called gingivitis, an early stage of gum disease.
Gingivitis is reversible with good oral hygiene and professional treatment; however, if left untreated, gingivitis can advance into periodontitis. Periodontitis, a more severe form of gum disease, occurs when bacterial infection causes your gums and the bone supporting the teeth to break down. Your gums may begin to recede, pulling back from the teeth. In the worst cases, the bone supporting the teeth is destroyed and can lead to tooth loss.
Fight Back Against Plaque
Plaque is colorless and difficult to see. Heavy plaque deposits can be easier to see and may look like a thick white deposit or food stuck to the teeth. Since plaque is constantly growing in your mouth, the best way to remove it and to prevent tartar build-up is to brush and floss your teeth every day. Below are a few quick tips to reduce plaque:
- Brush your teeth twice a day, using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
- Use floss or any interdental cleaner to remove plaque from the places where your toothbrush can’t reach. Flossing is essential to preventing gum disease.
- Eat a balanced diet and limit between-meal snacks, which can provide more sugar for the bacteria in plaque to convert into decay-causing acids.
- Visit your dentist at least once a year for professional cleanings and oral exams.
Call Medical Arts Dentistry Today!
Proper dental care begins at home and will help reduce the need for additional visits to the dentist. To schedule an appointment with our Savannah general dentistry practice, call Medical Arts Dentistry at (912) 355-0605. We serve patients living throughout the areas of Savannah, Garden City, and Richmond Hill, Georgia.