Every single one of us is fighting plaque buildup on our teeth every day.
What is dental plaque? Dental plaque is a microbial biofilm that sticks to your teeth. It can build up anywhere above or below your gum line, but it particularly thrives in the deep crevices around your molars. In this position, it’s harder to reach.
Dental plaque is often colorless or pale yellow in color. It can damage teeth, wearing away at your enamel and contributing to tooth decay. It also causes red or swollen gums and bad breath.
While we all deal with plaque, knowing a little bit about how dental plaque is formed can help you keep it from building up to damaging levels.
Step One: Food Particles Stay on Your Teeth
Brushing your teeth removes plaque, but dental plaque formation begins again soon after your teeth are cleaned. The process is sped up by letting food particles sit in your mouth after eating.
Foods with a lot of carbohydrates contribute most to dental plaque formation. While most foods contain carbohydrates, foods with a lot of sugar, such as sodas and cakes, cause more plaque formation than others.
Why carbohydrates? The answer to this question lies in the chemical reaction that takes place in your mouth after you eat.
Step Two: Reactions in Your Mouth Form Plaque
Plaque needs four ingredients to form: carbohydrates, saliva, bacteria, and food particles.
When you consume foods with carbohydrates, the carbohydrates interact with the natural bacteria in your mouth. The reaction caused by this interaction produces acid. This acid by itself can damage your teeth, but the process doesn’t stop there.
When the acid interacts with saliva and food particles in your mouth, it causes a second reaction. This new reaction changes the acid into a sticky substance that gets stuck on your teeth. This substance is called plaque.
Step Three: Dental Plaque Calcifies Into Tartar
Dental plaque is problematic, but tartar can be even more damaging. If plaque is left on your teeth for a couple of days, it calcifies into tartar. Tartar, also called calculus, is a dense, hard substance that can trap more plaque on your teeth. This substance can appear yellow or brown, and it can contribute to gum disease and tooth decay.
While most plaque can be removed through careful brushing, tartar needs to be scraped off by a dental professional.
Scheduling regular dental cleanings twice a year can help prevent plaque and tartar buildup, protecting your mouth against tooth decay and gum disease. Talk to your dentist to learn more about how dental plaque is formed and how to prevent it from building up on your teeth.
Our office at Mountain View Dental is comfortable and professional. We are proud to provide dental cleanings and other services in a safe and relaxed environment. If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment at our Pleasant View office, give us a call today.