What Is Dental Plaque?

Dental plaque is a sticky substance that forms on your teeth and can contribute to tooth decay and gum disease. Plaque contains bacteria, which following a meal or snack containing sugar can release acids that attack tooth enamel. It begins forming on the teeth 4-12 hours after brushing. This is why it is so important to brush thoroughly at least twice a day and floss daily.


Dental Plaque imageHow Can Plaque Affect Your Oral Health?

Plaque is the main cause of many oral health issues. Plaque can contribute to bad breath and can make your teeth look yellow. Bacterial plaque produces acid that causes the enamel to break down, resulting in cavities and can also cause the early stage of gum disease called gingivitis.

Gingivitis is irritation and inflammation of the gum tissue around the base of your teeth. If left untreated gingivitis can lead to periodontitis which is bone loss around the teeth and may even lead to eventual tooth loss. This inflammatory disease doesn’t only stay in the mouth but is linked to other problems, including heart attack and dementia, and may jeopardize your overall health. Research shows that gum diseases can affect your heart and life expectancy.


Plaque on Teeth Causes Cavities and Gingivitis

If plaque is not regularly removed from your teeth by brushing and flossing daily, it mineralizes into tartar. Tartar is a hard, yellow-brownish deposit that adheres to the teeth and can only be removed by a dentist or dental hygienist. When tartar collects above the gum line, the tissue can become swollen and bleed. This is called gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease. You can prevent plaque buildup and keep your teeth clean and cavity-free by regular dental visits, brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, and flossing daily.


How Plaque is Removed from Teeth

Fighting plaque is a critical factor in protecting and preserving your teeth, and gums. Use an electric toothbrush for a thorough clean and a toothpaste that helps fight plaque and gingivitis, such as Crest Pro-Health Gum Detoxify. Mouthwash is also helpful as a daily oral hygiene routine for some people.


Mouthwash Offers Additional Benefits

Mouthwash offers the benefit of reaching areas not easily accessed by a toothbrush. There are two types of mouthwash — cosmetic and therapeutic. Cosmetic mouthwash (mouth rinse) may temporarily control bad breath but doesn’t kill the bacteria associated with bad breath. Therapeutic mouthwash has active ingredients to help control bad breath, gingivitis, plaque, and tooth decay.

Active ingredients that may be used in therapeutic mouthwash include cetylpyridinium chloride, chlorhexidine, essential oils, fluoride, and peroxide. Cetylpyridinium chloride reduces bad breath. Both chlorhexidine and essential oils can be used to help control plaque and gingivitis. Fluoride helps to prevent tooth decay. Peroxide is a whitening agent in mouthwash.

It is not recommended for children younger than 6 unless directed by a dentist. Check the product label for specific precautions and age recommendations.

If you are looking for a dentist in Downers Grove for a routine dental check-up, x-rays, and teeth cleaning, contact Webster Dental at 630.663.0554. Our dental office is located in the heart of downtown Downers Grove, close to the METRA train, restaurants, boutiques, and the Tivoli theatre. Our address is 1121 Warren Avenue, Suite 130, in Downers Grove, Illinois 60515.

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