Toothpaste companies advertise their product's ability to fight plaque and control tartar. But what is dental plaque anyway? Here we cover dental plaque, the dental problems it can cause and how you can prevent plaque build-up.
What is dental plaque?
Plaque plays a big part in causing tooth decay. When you wake up in the morning, do your teeth feel sticky or fuzzy? This happens because a layer of plaque has formed on your teeth overnight. Plaque is a sticky, clear film that constantly develops on teeth.
Plaque is bad for your teeth because it contains cavity-causing bacteria. When you eat sugary or starchy foods, or drink sugary drinks, the sugars in these foods mix with plaque. The bacteria in the plaque use these sugars to create an acid. When acid forms, it slowly eats away at tooth enamel, compromising the strength and health of your teeth. This can lead to cavities or cause existing cavities to grow larger.
What is tartar?
If plaque isn't removed with regular brushing and flossing, it may harden after a few days. Hardened plaque is called tartar.
If tartar develops above the gum line, your gum tissue may swell and bleed easily. This is a symptom of gingivitis, which is an early stage of gum disease. Tartar is also called ‘calculus’. Tartar forming below the gumline may lead to loss of the bone supporting your teeth. This is periodontal disease.
Tartar is difficult to remove and usually requires treatment by a dental professional.
Can dental plaque cause bad breath?
Yes. The bacteria in plaque can cause bad breath.
Can dental plaque cause heart disease?
Some studies show a correlation between gum disease and heart disease. Gum disease can cause bacteria to enter the blood stream, setting up an inflammatory response which can allow arteries to build up atherosclerotic plaque and cause hardening of the arteries. This can lead to blood flow issues, heart blockages and an increased risk of having a heart attack.
What will remove dental plaque?
Brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day, flossing daily and regular visits to your dentist can help prevent plaque and tartar buildup.
A regular at-home oral hygiene routine can do wonders in keeping your mouth and body healthy, and your smile bright.