Defeating Dental Plaque: 3 Common Questions

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Anyone with even a basic familiarity of oral health terminology has heard of dental plaque. Yet few understand what plaque is exactly--or what makes it so bad for you. If you would like to increase your knowledge about the nature and dangers of plaque, read on. This article will answer three of the most common questions.

Is plaque a type of bacteria?

A common confusion about dental plaque is that it is a type of bacteria that causes dental decay. This isn't quite true. Plaque is actually what is known as a biofilm. When proper oral hygiene habits aren't followed, this colorless, sticky substance builds up on the surface of your teeth, thus providing the perfect habitat for those destructive bacteria.

What kinds of problems can plaque lead to in the long run?

The bacteria that like to take up residence in dental plaque live off of sugars from the food you ingest. They break down such sugars into acids. Over time, these acids weaken the enamel of your teeth--leading eventually to cavities, abscesses, and worse.

Yet the problems posed by plaque buildup don't stop there. Eventually that plaque will start to harden, turning into the substance known as either tartar or dental calculus. When tartar is allowed to accumulate around the gums, it often leads to the development of periodontal disease--for instance, gingivitis.

Once you find yourself in this territory, the negative effects of plaque really skyrocket. Periodontal disease has been linked to a wide variety of non-dental diseases. In other words, those who suffer from periodontal disease are at a higher risk of developing problems such as:

  • arthritis
  • diabetes
  • heart disease
  • dementia
  • premature birth

Is it possible to get rid of plaque that has already begun building up?

Yes, it is certainly possible to reverse the accumulation of plaque. This is generally done by scheduling dental cleanings with your dentist. While regular cleanings should be enough to keep your teeth plaque free, if you've waited too long to deal with the problem, your dentist may have to resort to the more involved technique known as root scaling and planing.

In order to keep plaque levels manageable, it is also vital that you implement a proper oral hygiene regime. As you are probably aware, this should involve brushing at least twice a day, and flossing every day. When it comes to your brushing habits, keep in mind that plaque and tooth decay are most likely to afflict the teeth at the back of your mouth.

You may also choose to utilize an antiseptic mouth rinse to manage plaque. Be aware, however, that mouthwash and antiseptic rinse aren't the same thing. Most mouthwashes are intended to fight bad breath. Antiseptic rinses, on the other hand, are capable of suppressing a much wider array of microorganisms.

For more information, contact Prairie Mall Dental Clinic or a similar location.