Plaque 101: What You Should Know

You know that plaque is bad for you, but do you know what causes plaque and how to prevent it? Refresh your memory on the causes and treatments for plaque for your oral health.

What is Plaque?

Plaque is a soft substance that covers your teeth. If not removed, plaque can turn into tartar, which takes more effort to clean. Plaque is made when residual carbohydrates left over from food mix with saliva and oral bacteria, creating a sticky paste that clings to the teeth.

Plaque can feel gross, but it is also bad for you. The bacteria found within plaque gnaw away at your enamel, which is the hard protective surface of your teeth. When enamel wears away, you are more likely to develop cavities as a result. If not removed, plaque will turn into tartar, and it will also lead to gingivitis, which is a type of gum disease. Fortunately, plaque can be treated before it gets to the point of causing secondary conditions or even tooth loss.

How Can You Prevent Plaque

Simply by brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing in the evenings, you can keep plaque at bay. Since you are eating and drinking throughout the day, plaque builds up after every snack or meal. If it is not removed by brushing your teeth daily, plaque can harden into tartar in as little as one day.

A quick swipe with a toothbrush is not sufficient to remove plaque. We recommend brushing your teeth for two minutes every time using a medium-bristled toothbrush. When flossing, floss between every tooth. Focus on removing any food particles that are stuck in there. After you floss, rinse your mouth out to remove any bacteria that was dislodged during your flossing. For more expert tips on the right way to brush and floss teeth, talk to our dentist the next time you come in for a cleaning.

Good oral hygiene habits keep your teeth plaque-free in between brushing while promoting better oral health. Our Tampa dentist recommends dietary changes for oral hygiene such as:

  • Reducing the amount of sugar and starch you consume, since these break down to carbohydrates in the mouth
  • Boosting your fiber uptake
  • Consuming healthy fats such as dairy products or olive oil

Visiting your dentist for cleanings every six months is beneficial, too. During cleanings, the dental hygienist can shape away any tartar that has developed and check for signs of advanced problems from cavities to gum disease. Early treatment means that we can resolve any root issues faster and with less invasive procedures.

By changing your daily routine to promote good habits and visiting the dentist twice a year, you can keep your smile strong and healthy. If it has been a while since you last saw the dentist, it may be time for a cleaning. To reserve your cleaning today, or to discuss any other issues related to your teeth or gums, call our Tampa dental clinic at 813-501-6864.