Plaque is just a part of life. It might be annoying, but unavoidable. Plaque is constantly forming in our mouths. I bet if you run your tongue over your teeth right now you’ll feel the fuzzy little particles sticking to your teeth. Just try to get through this article without stopping to brush your teeth, I dare ya. Before you get too grossed out, just remember that a great dental hygiene routine will spare you the troubles that come with plaque buildup.
What is Plaque?
Plaque is a bacterial film that attaches to our teeth as a reaction to food and natural bacteria that enter and preside in your mouth. It is created constantly throughout the day, even while we are sleeping, but it’s at its worst after a meal.
Plaque can be a tricky substance. At first it seems so harmless. It is easy to remove as long as you keep up a good routine. When left untreated, however, plaque becomes dangerous because it will harden into what is known as tartar: a calcified substance that cannot be removed without the help of a dentist.
Dangers of Plaque
Plaque is a sticky film that traps bacteria and acids and keeps them in contact with our teeth. These acids can breakdown the tooth’s main defense: enamel, leading to cavities and serious tooth decay. Plaque buildup has been linked to more serious health problems including heart disease and diabetes.
The more plaque, the bigger the problem. When left untreated, plaque will build and build, becoming stronger and more difficult to remove. Plaque buildup is no laughing matter. As plaque builds and hardens it becomes tartar. Tartar is most commonly linked with gum disease.
Gum disease is very common, but that doesn’t mean it’s not threatening. Starting out as gingivitis, it is very treatable. However, if not caught in time, plaque buildup will lead to much bigger problems along the gum line. Gum disease causes the gum line to swell, bleed, and become incredibly tender. Gums will even recede from the teeth leaving them vulnerable to decay. Gum disease is not worth the risk.
The Immune System
Plaque buildup activates the immune system to help kill bacteria. The problem is the immune system can’t kill plaque, so bacteria will just keep getting trapped. Your body will trigger inflammation as a response. This inflammation will not go away until the bacteria is gone, which can’t happen until plaque is removed.
Plaque buildup is often a recurring problem, which can really take a toll on your immune system. Like when you have a cold, your body is less likely to be able to fight off other bacteria. Same concept. If your immune system is busy trying to fight your plaque (a battle it cannot win alone), you are left more vulnerable to viruses and bacteria.
Preventing Plaque Buildup
The best thing you can do for prevention is to brush and floss your teeth regularly. I know, I know, typical dentist answer. But, the main goal of brushing and flossing is to remove the day’s bacteria that has gathered on your teeth. Flossing isn’t just about removing food that has gotten lodged. Your dentist wants you flossing every day because plaque loves to hide between your teeth.
If you have the capability: brushing and flossing after meals would be ideal. Plaque is loose and easy to remove when it is fresh. The faster you can brush it away, the better. And of course remember to be scheduling your bi-annual dentist appointments to make sure you aren’t missing a thing.
Let Eagle Rock Dental Care be your trusted Rexburg dentist. Cleanings are quick and painless, and most insurances cover your bi-annual visits! Don’t let plaque buildup get the best of you. Contact us to schedule your appointment today!