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Teeth 101: What is Plaque?

Gum Disease Treatment Gilbert AZWe use a lot of dental terms that you might not understand during your routine cleaning. More specifically, many of our patients understand the basics of dentistry, but probably won’t know the specifics unless they’re in the profession themselves. After all, many of our patients have been to the dentist since they were young, and can get the basic idea when we talk to them about plaque, tartar, and cavities.

But what exactly are those things, and how do they keep winding up on your teeth? Keep reading to learn the ins and outs of plaque, and how it affects your dental health.

What is it?

Plaque is a soft film that sticks to the teeth and builds up over time, especially if you’re not brushing and flossing regularly. You might start to feel plaque on your teeth after some time. For example, some people say it feels fuzzy when they rub their tongue along the teeth. That fuzz shouldn’t be there, though. Plaque contains bacteria that helps contribute to tooth decay, after all.

Sugars in your food are used to feed the bacteria in plaque, which create acid as a byproduct. These acids can eat away at tooth enamel and cause cavities over time. Even food like bread turns into sugar in the mouth, so limit your carbohydrate and sugar intake to keep unnecessary plaque at bay.

If plaque is left on the teeth long enough, it can harden and turn into tartar, which can then lead to gingivitis. Gingivitis is a disease of the gums where the gums may be red, swollen, or bleed easily. Even worse, when gingivitis is left unchecked, it can turn into full blown periodontitis, which is where the gums start to recede and the bones that support your teeth can be at risk. It’s quite a slippery slope! Stop the risk of these diseases at the beginning, and make sure to get regular cleanings.

How to Get Rid of Plaque

Plaque will naturally occur in your mouth as you live your life, eating and drinking. Keep it in check by brushing and flossing twice a day, and getting regular cleanings to scrub away any plaque that you may have missed.

If you need to schedule a cleaning, give us a call today at 480-539-7979.

Posted in: General Dentistry, Periodontal Treatment

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