Dental plaque is a microbial biofilm that is found on the tooth surfaces. It is the sticky, white stuff that forms on the teeth, between the teeth, and both above and below the gum line. Plaque causes a great deal of damage to the teeth and gums when it is not removed on a daily basis. If you run your tongue over your teeth and feel a “fuzzy” film on them, then you know that plaque is present inside your mouth.
While plaque forms all over the mouth, it accumulates in the greatest numbers on the back teeth. The bacteria inside the mouth react when they come into contact with the foods that you eat. The bacteria inside the mouth are most attracted to the sugars and carbohydrates in foods and beverage, and they will congregate around left behind particles in large numbers. As these bacteria collect, they begin producing acids causing plaque to form on the teeth.
Dental plaque is dangerous to the mouth because it compromises the health of the teeth and the gums. The acids within dental plaque remain, though the plaque will begin to harden into tartar. If plaque is not removed regularly with flossing and brushing, the acids inside the plaque will begin to eat their way through the tooth enamel – known as a cavity. Plaque that is left on the tooth will continue to develop and grow. Once it develops at the gum tissues, gingivitis will begin; if not treated, gingivitis will turn into irreversible periodontal disease; and if plaque reaches the roots of the teeth under the gum line, the acids will break down the bone supporting the tooth.
Plaque is a dangerous substance inside the mouth. Plaque will never go away simply because of the nature of the mouth. However, it can be controlled with good oral hygiene habits. Flossing daily is the most important part of oral hygiene, yet it is often the most neglected. Floss is the only tool designed to remove plaque from the gum line and from between the teeth. Brushing helps to loosen plaque from the surfaces of the teeth, and to combat the foul odor that it causes.
At Siena Dental, we want to educate all of our patients on the benefits of good oral hygiene. Plaque must be treated as an unwanted visitor inside your mouth on a daily basis in order to control it and prevent it from destroying your oral health.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Dave Mahon, Siena Dental
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