How Plaque Forms And Why You Should Prevent It

Posted on Dec 05, 2014 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

Want to save yourself from costly and time-consuming tooth and gum problems? Read on to know where most of the problems begin, and how to avoid them.

Plaque is a sticky substance in the mouth that results from chemical reactions when bacteria, carbohydrates, food particles, and saliva combine. When food particles and saliva mix in your mouth and aren’t properly removed, this results in a build up on teeth that creates oral bacteria. Plaque accumulation on teeth leads to an attack on enamel, causes bad breath, yellow teeth, cavities and oral decay. Brushing and flossing twice a day is the best way to remove plaque and keep your teeth, gums and breath in good condition.

The beginning of plaque formation occurs as you chew carbohydrates, which are components of most of the foods we eat. As the carbohydrates combine with the natural bacteria in the mouth, an acid is created. This acid can eat at tooth enamel and triggers the production of oral bacteria. When the acid and saliva mix with rotting food particles in the mouth, the accumulation of oral bacteria becomes sticky and attaches to teeth.

Once plaque forms on teeth, you have a limited amount of time to remove it before it hardens. Most plaque hardens within 48 hours, becoming so hard within days that removal can only occur with special tools used by your dentist or dental hygienist. It cannot be brushed or flossed away.

Plaque can be prevented or controlled by maintaining a low carbohydrate diet. Although it’s not possible to avoid all carbohydrates, limiting sweets, bread, cereal, potatoes and sugary drinks will help greatly.

Additionally, it is important that you brush and floss twice a day. Brushing removes plaque build up on teeth and leftover food particles that contribute to bacteria build up. Brush for a minimum of two minutes each time and be sure to brush the top, front and back of all teeth. Daily flossing removes food particles and debris from between teeth, further decreasing the potential for plaque to form in the first place.

Remember, if plaque has formed on your teeth but hasn’t hardened into tartar, thorough brushing and flossing in a timely manner can remove it. If, however, tartar has formed on teeth, you’ll need a dental cleaning to have this bacteria-filled attachment removed from teeth.

Bleeding, sore gums indicate the bacteria build up has progressed to periodontal disease. This will require more than a dental cleaning. Call (828) 274-9440 to curtail costly damage to your teeth and gums.

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