Understanding Dental Plaque And What It Does To Your Mouth

Understanding Dental Plaque And What It Does To Your Mouth

Having great oral health is important in maintaining the health of your entire body. Your tongue, teeth, and saliva are a window to what is going on inside of your body and can be used to determine early signs of serious diseases. A healthy mouth can also prevent many of these diseases and improve the way you feel about your teeth and appearance.

One of the first things you should worry about when it comes to the health of your teeth is dental plaque. There is a reason why dentists and parents tell you to brush twice a day and floss daily, so if you want to know the dangers behind dental plaque and how to keep it under control, read on.

What Is Dental Plaque?

Dental plaque is a white, sticky substance made up of bacteria that develops from eating and digestion. This bacteria helps to break down the sugars in the food that we consume, but in the process produces acid that wears away the enamel on our teeth. Enamel is the hard outer layer of a tooth that works as a barrier against substances that can wear it down.

Without it, our teeth are more susceptible to tooth decay, which is the very thing that dental plaque causes. Plaque can also cause gum diseases such as periodontitis, which is a condition that can make your teeth fall out.

Woman Showing Gum Disease

Since plaque is sticky, it keeps the acids that break down enamel against the teeth to eat away at the structure, causing teeth to become weaker and weaker over time. It can also affect your gums. If the bacteria stays on the gums for a long time, it can cause an infection.

Once this happens, the gums begin to go back, and its bone structure becomes weaker. At this point, it becomes so difficult for the gums to support your teeth that they start to fall out. This can have serious effects on your appearance, self-esteem, and overall health. 

Types Of Bacteria That Make Up Plaque

Hundreds of bacteria make up the dental plaque in our mouths, but one of the main types of bacteria is Streptococcus mutans, one of the first bacteria to show up on the teeth. Many other types form on the tooth at different times and areas of the mouth to help out in the process. Other examples of these types are actinobacteria and eikenella. 

Hundreds of these bacteria form a cluster that creates a biofilm, a little community of bacteria that perform different functions to aid in the health of your mouth. This means that in certain amounts, these bacteria are not harmful. They only turn into a problem when they start to get out of control. 

The type of bacteria that lives in the mouth thrive in dark, moist places and are anaerobes, which are organisms that do not need oxygen to survive. They rely solely on the sugars provided by the foods you eat.

Dental Plaque Formation

There is a particular process that is in place for the bacteria to attach to the teeth. First, dental pellicle forms on the tooth. A pellicle is a layer of saliva that is formed after you eat to clean the mouth. With this, bacteria can attach itself to the tooth. The first bacteria form a layer of protection.

Illustration Of Dental Plaque

The bacteria then spread and form colonies in the mouth. If these colonies are not interrupted and removed from the mouth, they get bigger and bigger and eventually form the biofilm that is known as plaque. From there, the longer the plaque stays, the thicker the layer it makes on your teeth.

Dental Plaque Removal

Now that you know what plaque is and how it forms on your teeth, it is time to talk about how to remove it. If the plaque on your teeth has not developed into tartar (which will be discussed later in the article), you will have an easier time getting rid of it.

The first thing you need to make sure you are doing is brushing your teeth every single day, twice a day. This takes off the layers that have been added from the foods that you have been eating throughout the day.

The next important thing to do is to floss at least once a day. A good time to floss your teeth if you are new to it is after you brush your teeth at night. Flossing enables you to remove the plaque from your gums and in between your teeth, the places that your toothbrush has a hard time reaching.

Changing your diet to a healthier one will also help your teeth by lowering the development of plaque overall. With reduced amounts of sugar, your body will not produce as much bacteria to break it down, giving your teeth a break. Also, be sure to visit your dentist at least twice a year for cleanings and checkups.

Plaque Vs. Tartar

Dental tartar is a form of plaque that has transformed into a tough substance on the teeth. The accumulation of bacteria on the teeth causes infection in the gums, as we mentioned before, and leads to severe dental diseases. One of the minor conditions that come from this is gingivitis, which can cause irritated, inflamed gums and bad breath.

Illustration Of Dental Plaque And Tartar

If the tartar is still not removed, it can lead to the failing of gum health and teeth falling out. If you have a tartar buildup, you will need to go to the dentist to get it professionally removed. It takes the right tools and equipment to get rid of such a hard substance.

Summary

One of the key ways to achieve optimal dental health is keeping the plaque that can form on your teeth as low as possible. When it comes to your health, it is crucial to ensure that you take care of yourself to live and look your best. Thank you for reading this guide on dental plaque and how to handle it.

Resources:

WebMD
WikiHow

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