Have you ever run your tongue over your teeth and noticed that they felt a little fuzzy? That was probably dental plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that constantly accumulates on your teeth after eating and drinking. The bacteria in plaque can attack your teeth and gums, resulting in cavities and gum disease. You don’t want that! Let’s look at some tips for how to prevent dental plaque buildup.
What Causes Plaque Buildup?
Saliva combines with bits of food and drink, as well as the bacteria already present in your mouth, to create plaque. Bacteria love sugary and starchy foods in particular. This allows them to form deposits which collect in the mouth, especially in the area where gums meet teeth. Regular brushing and flossing disturb plaque, so it doesn’t have the chance to harden into a material called tartar.
If you go even as little as 12 hours without brushing or flossing, plaque turns into tartar. You can get rid of plaque on your own fairly easily, but tartar is so hard that it can only be removed by the special tools of a dental professional. It creates yellow or brown deposits on the teeth that are quite noticeable. Additionally, since they are stuck there, they cause seriously bad breath.
How Can You Prevent Plaque from Accumulating?
To keep plaque from building up, follow these steps:
- Visit your dentist every 6 months. Your dental hygienist can use instruments to remove tartar and give you a professional cleaning to get rid of any remaining plaque.
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day. Be sure to use a fluoridated toothpaste, as fluoride has been shown to fight plaque.
- Flossing daily is the only way to remove plaque from between your teeth. That’s one of the main places where plaque likes to form.
- Change your toothbrush (or brush head if you’re using an electric toothbrush) every 3 months. Change it even sooner if you’ve been sick recently.
- Quit smoking, as that increases your risk of plaque buildup.
- Use an antibacterial mouthwash after you brush and floss to clean out the areas of your teeth that your toothbrush or floss can’t reach.
Preventing plaque is really that easy if you follow all the steps listed above. For more advice on how to keep your teeth nice and clean, don’t hesitate to ask your dentist.
About the Author
Dr. Gene Gutman earned his Doctor of Dental Medicine degree from Temple University Dental School in 1987. He is currently eligible for a Fellowship from the prestigious Academy of General Dentistry. He has provided quality dental care to his patients in the Bensalem, PA area for more than 25 years now. To learn more about how to prevent dental plaque, contact Dr. Gutman here or call (215) 752-5911.