If you're like most people, you're probably used to hearing about the dangers of dental plaque all the time. But what exactly is plaque, and why is it so bad? Surprisingly, few people have the answers to such questions. If you would like to learn more about keeping your teeth healthy, read on. This article will provide answers to three common questions about dental plaque.
1. What is plaque?
Plaque is a naturally forming biofilm. Sticky and colorless, it builds up on your teeth over time, thus providing a breeding ground for millions upon millions of bacteria. These bacteria feed off of the sugars in the food you eat, producing an acid which eats away at the enamel of your teeth.
2. What are the long term effects of plaque?
As stated above, plaque works to weaken the enamel of your teeth. This makes the surface of your tooth much more susceptible to cavities. Not only that, but when plaque goes untreated long enough it will eventually harden, becoming tartar. Especially when it forms up near the gum line, tartar greatly increases the likelihood of developing periodontal diseases, such as gingivitis.
At this point, the effects of plaque start to get really scary. Research is increasingly indicating that, once you've developed some form of periodontal disease, your odds of developing certain non-dental diseases goes way up. Such diseases include things like:
- heart disease
- premature birth
3. How can I get rid of plaque?
Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do to help keep plaque from building up in your mouth. The best thing, as you surely know, is to develop a consistent oral hygiene regimen--one that involves brushing and flossing at least twice a day. Be aware that tooth decay is most likely to strike your back teeth.
Using an antiseptic mouth rinse in conjunction with regular brushing is also a good idea. Just be aware that there is a difference between mouthwash, which is designed simply to fight bad breath, and a true antiseptic rinse, which helps to keep a wide variety of microorganisms from proliferating in your mouth. When choosing a product, opt for one which contains alcohol, as this is a common ingredient in true antiseptic rinses.
Finally, be aware of the large role that diet plays in the formation of plaque. Sticky, sugary food is the worst of all, especially if you're not able to brush soon after eating. Anything that leaves a thick, starchy film on your teeth is an ideal food for plaque. Getting rid of it quickly is a good idea--but an even better one is to avoid it completely. For more information, contact a dentist in your area.