If you’ve skipped brushing in the morning or at night, your teeth can feel sticky or slimy when running your tongue over them. They will feel dirty or fuzzy from a buildup of plaque. If it isn’t removed at least twice daily, it can increase your risk of various dental issues, including tooth loss. You don’t have to let the biofilm wreak havoc on your smile. Here’s what causes it and what you can do to get rid of it.
What is Dental Plaque?
Your mouth is home to hundreds of species of oral bacteria. Some are essential for your oral health, but others can damage your teeth and gums. Essentially, plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that clings to your teeth. Everyone has plaque because it is a natural occurrence.
Plaque contains harmful bacteria created by saliva and food residue. Oral bacteria feed on sugars and carbohydrates. As they are broken down, an acidic film forms, called dental plaque. The film is colorless, but it can be noticeable on your teeth from the food particles trapped in the buildup.
If plaque isn’t removed, it will turn to tartar as it hardens. Brushing and flossing won’t remove it. It will appear yellow or white initially, but it will darken from foods and drinks. Only a trained professional can remove dental calculus.
Risks of Dental Plaque
Dental plaque can make your smile look aged and dirty from plaque accumulation and discoloration. Over time, it can erode your enamel, increasing your risk of cavities or sensitive teeth. Bacteria in tartar can also infect your gums. Gum disease not only increases your risk of tooth loss, but it is also linked to various health problems, like heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and diabetic complications.
Safeguard Your Smile from Dental Plaque
You can’t stop plaque from forming, but you can keep it under control by following a few tips:
- Practice Good Dental Hygiene: Brush your teeth at least twice a day for 2 full minutes. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and tartar control toothpaste to clean all surfaces of your teeth and tongue. Floss at least once daily to remove the buildup your toothbrush can’t reach.
- Cut Out Sugars and Starches: Starches and sugar increase oral bacteria growth. It’s best to limit your consumption of sugary foods and drinks.
Besides keeping your mouth clean at home, visit your dentist every 6 months for a cleaning and checkup. They’ll remove tartar and keep your teeth and gums healthy.
About Dr. Edward J. Dooley
Dr. Dooley earned his dental degree at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine and has regularly continued his education in many specialties, like Invisalign and dental implants. He is a member of several professional organizations, including the American Dental Association. Request an appointment through his website or call (732) 820-5493.