What is Plaque and Why Is It Harmful?

What is Plaque and Why Is It Harmful?

When it comes to managing your oral health, keeping an eye on plaque is a huge deal. In fact, your dentist at Ideal Dental will likely mention plaque a time or two during a general checkup or hygiene appointment. So, what is plaque exactly, and what is it such a threat to your oral health? Below is a closer look at one of the biggest threats to your oral health and how to keep the problem in check. 

What is Plaque?

Simply put, dental plaque is a sticky residue that forms on the surface of your teeth and around the gumline. Plaque comes about when mouth bacteria meet up with starch or sugary food particles. The bacteria produce a certain type of acid that breaks the carbohydrates down in the food and results in the buildup. If you have ever felt like your teeth are “fuzzy,” you have probably felt plaque on your teeth. However, plaque can also cause problems with bad breath. 

Who is Likely to Have Issues with Plaque?

Just about everyone will have plaque on their teeth at some point. However, some people are more likely to have to constantly battle plaque formation than others. A few examples would be someone who:

The Dangers of Plaque for Your Oral Health

If plaque is allowed to hang around on your teeth, this can generate serious problems. What you basically have is a layer of acidic, starchy bacteria clinging to tooth enamel. Over time, this residue hardens and results in tartar, which is hardened, calcified material that has to be removed by a dentist. Plaque and tartar are problematic because they can lead to: 

Best Ways to Control Plaque Formation 

The number one defense against plaque is good oral hygiene habits. Brushing and flossing sloughs away the sticky residue before it hardens into tartar. However, you can also prevent problems by visiting the oral hygienist twice a year and maintaining a relatively healthy diet with fewer starches and sugars. The dentist can also offer help to protect teeth from plaque in the form of fluoride treatments, dental sealants, and prescription mouthwash and medications. If certain medications are causing dry mouth, or you have an illness that inhibits saliva production, medications may also help. 

Concerned About Plaque and Your Oral Health?

If you feel like you have a hard time with excessive plaque, talking to your dentist is a good idea. Building a preventative plan to keep plaque buildup at bay may be one of the most important things you do for your smile. Reach out to your local Ideal Dental to schedule an appointment to find out how we can help. Find your local Ideal Dental office to get started today.