What is Dental Plaque and How Can I Get Rid of Plaque?

It used to be that people thought you were just supposed to lose your teeth as you got older. They thought it was a natural process and unavoidable. Now, we understand this way of thinking to be false. If you diligently take care of your teeth and visit dentists in Markham, you can avoid tooth loss as you age. One key to taking care of your teeth includes understanding what dental plaque is, its negative effect and how to get rid of it.

What is plaque, anyway?

Plaque is a colorless, sticky film formed from bacteria. It is constantly sticking to the teeth and forming along our gum lines. The bacteria in plaque is what causes cavities and gum disease. When plaque becomes hardened and attached to teeth enamel, it calcifies and becomes tartar. Bacteria constantly grows in the mouth and since we cannot see it easily plaque develops. If it is not removed from along the gum line, it can cause inflammation and irritation. Tartar is relatively easy to see since it is a mineral buildup. Usually, once plaque has transitioned into tartar, you will notice a deposit, either yellow or brown, building up along the gum line.

Why should I worry about plaque?

Even though plaque is not visible, it can have a harmful effect on the teeth. Remember that plaque is a buildup of germs, harmful germs that live in the mouth, and eventually stick to the teeth. Some types of plaque can lead to tooth decay, and other types can lead to gum disease. If your gums become puffy, red or start to bleed it may be the initial signs of gum disease. If left untreated, it can destroy the tissues that hold the teeth in place and eventually you’ll lose your teeth.

Since I can’t see plaque, how will the dentist know?

Unless it gets stained, dental plaque can be difficult to see. At the Markham dentistry clinic, the dentist will ask you to chew a red tablet. He may call it a “disclosing tablet.” They are often found at pharmaceutical stores or grocery stores. When you chew it, the red color that remains on the teeth will let you know where plaque resides. You can brush again to try and remove it.

Can I prevent plaque and tartar?

Here are a few things you can do to help prevent plaque:

  • Brush Daily – Brush your teeth every single day, at least twice. Make sure to continue brushing for at least 2 minutes each time to ensure the teeth are cleaned properly.
  • Floss Daily – Your teeth need to be flossed every single day. Floss can reach between the teeth to remove plaque and bacteria. A toothbrush is not able to reach these tight spaces.
  • Regular Dental Visits – It’s important to schedule at least two dental visits each year. The dentist can clean your teeth professionally and examine them to ensure plaque is not building up or causing damage.