Most people have heard of the term “dental plaque” but aren’t quite sure what it is. You know that fuzzy coating you feel on your teeth when you first wake up? That’s dental plaque.
Plaque is a sticky film that grows on your teeth every day, but scientists call plaque a “biofilm” because it’s actually a colony of bacteria.
Professional cleanings from a Fort Worth Dentist can help you eliminate a large amount of plaque buildup, but it’s your job to fight this bacteria by brushing and flossing your teeth daily.
Why is it so important to remove dental plaque? In this blog, we’ll go over how plaque can affect your oral health and what you can do to have a future of healthy teeth and gums.
What’s the Difference Between Dental Plaque and Tartar?
Another term you’ve probably heard of is “tartar.” Many people think plaque and tartar are the same things, but there’s an important difference between the two terms. Like we mentioned earlier, plaque is the sticky film made of bacteria that constantly forms on your teeth.
This bacteria forms on your teeth and along the gum lines 4-12 hours after brushing, which is why daily dental hygiene is so important.
Tartar is the consequence of not regularly removing plaque. If plaque builds up on your teeth for too long, it can harden into an off-white or yellow substance called tartar.
Unfortunately, this hard substance is much more difficult to remove and can form in difficult-to-reach places. While flossing may dislodge some of the tartar buildup, it can only be removed by seeing your dentist for a professional scraping of your teeth. This is why a regular biannual visit to your Fort Worth dentist is critical to keep tartar under control.
How Does Plaque Form and What Other Health Problems Can It Cause?
When you eat food, you’re not just feeding yourself— you’re also feeding the bacteria in your mouth! The bacteria that live in your mouth thrive on starchy, sugary foods and produce acids in the process.
These acids are the root cause of many oral health issues. First, plaque can cause bad breath and yellow teeth. More importantly, these acids destroy tooth enamel, resulting in cavities or tooth decay.
Excessive plaque buildup can also lead to gingivitis, which is infection and inflammation of the gums. Over time, this can lead to the more severe disease, periodontitis, allowing bacteria to destroy the underlying bones supporting the teeth.
But this bacterial inflammation doesn’t only stay in your mouth— it can spread throughout your body. After developing gum disease, oral bacteria can escape into the bloodstream and cause a host of other health problems, including:
- Heart disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Premature birth
Fighting plaque not only leads to healthy gums and teeth but also a longer life!
How to Remove Plaque From Your Teeth
Plaque isn’t entirely avoidable, but the good news is that if you practice good oral hygiene, you can keep its growth manageable. Follow these tips to prevent plaque formation and protect your teeth and gums:
- Brush the front and back of your teeth twice a day, especially after eating sugary foods, for at least two minutes. Make sure to pay close attention to the area where the gums and the teeth meet.
- Floss between teeth at least once a day since plaque can build in tight spaces between teeth.
- Rinse with an antibacterial mouthwash at least once a day to remove the bacteria that causes plaque.
- Avoid sugary treats, like soda and candy. If you want a snack, opt for nutritious foods such as plain yogurt, cheese, fruit, or raw vegetables instead.
- Visit your Fort Worth dentist every six months for a professional cleaning. The dentist can eliminate plaque or tartar and can promptly treat any other issues, such as cavities.
Visit Your Fort Worth Dentist to Keep Plaque Under Control
Plaque can cause serious health problems, which is why good dental habits and regular trips to your Fort Worth dentist are critical to keeping it under control. Without regular professional cleanings, plaque may harden into tartar, or it may cause cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease.
A regular visit with one of our dental practitioners allows us to examine your mouth, remove plaque and tartar buildup, and identify any potential oral health issues. Contact the friendly team at Smile Fort Worth today to schedule your next appointment!