What is tooth plaque?

Removing plaque is an essential part in maintaining good oral hygiene as it’s the culprit for decay and cavities (caries). Essentially a biofilm, tooth plaque is the yellowish sludge that forms on your teeth and which eventually dries into tartar. Luckily, caught early enough with regular brushing, tooth plaque can be controlled and taken care of.

Eliminating plaque is perhaps the single most important oral hygiene activity that we can perform. Through flossing and regular brushing, we can certainly control plaque, but unfortunately we can’t remove it all due to the fact that there are many hard to reach areas as well as tiny gaps in between our teeth which a toothbrush just can’t access.

That ‘furry’ feeling that you get after you’ve just woken up or not brushed your teeth for a while is caused from an excessive build-up of plaque bacteria. The only way to eliminate the bacteria is by brushing your teeth, flossing and if possible using a good anti-bacterial mouthwash.

Over time, that plaque will eventually turn into tartar after about two weeks. As time goes on, the hardened tartar will release a form of acid that slowly breaks down the enamel and eventually the dentine of our teeth. This is what causes cavities, and why good oral hygiene is critically important in preventing accelerated tooth decay.

With even the best toothbrush however, it can be hard to eliminate all plaque. To get a handle on things, it’s important to visit a dentist regularly who can inspect your mouth for signs of tartar and then remove it using specialist tools. The good thing about visiting a dentist is they can spot cavities when they’re simple enough to fix with just a filling, saving you the pain and expense of toothache and root canals and in the worst case scenario, extractions.

In most circumstances, good oral hygiene and regular dental visits are normally enough to keep tooth plaque under control and to ensure that your teeth are in good condition.  One of the best ways to avoid plaque is to brush your teeth after every meal and to floss at least once a day. It’s also recommended to use toothpaste that contains fluoride in order to help strengthen your teeth and protect the enamel.

Dietary issues also help plaque to spread more rapidly, if you can restrict the sugar in your diet and substitute it with vegetables / fruit and the likes, you help to stimulate saliva and minimize plaque build-up. With a healthy diet, your teeth really do benefit a great deal, as sugars are one of the main reasons that cavities form.

Tooth plaque is controllable and removable simply by brushing your teeth. Unfortunately if it turns to tartar, there’s no way to remove the hard build-up other than visiting a dentist. Eventually tartar attacks the teeth, the gums and it cause a whole raft of problems due to its bacterial nature. With good oral hygiene however, it can be avoided, controlled and ultimately eliminated.

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