Understanding Plaque

dental careWhen you wake up in the morning and run your tongue over your teeth, you’ll feel a thin coating of film. This is plaque, a sticky colorless film that builds up on your teeth and contains millions of bacteria. If plaque isn’t removed by regularly brushing and flossing, it can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.

How plaque forms
After you eat, the bacteria found in plaque uses the sugars from your food to produce acids that slowly erode your tooth enamel. If the enamel is attacked repeatedly, it begins to break down and cause a cavity or hole in the surface of your tooth.

The harmful effects of plaque
If plaque continues to build up, it eventually hardens to form tartar, which is much more difficult to remove by brushing and flossing because it collects at the gum line. As plaque, tartar and bacteria grows, your gum tissue can become swollen. You may even see blood when you brush your teeth. This can be an indication of gingivitis, an early stage of gum disease. If gingivitis is left untreated, it can lead to a more severe type of gum disease called periodontis. This condition occurs when a bacterial infection makes your gums and tooth-supporting bone diminish. Your gums may recede and pull back from the teeth, and in severe cases, the bone supporting your teeth breaks down completely and can lead to tooth loss.

Fighting back against plaque
The best way to combat plaque is to brush and floss daily, using a soft-bristled brush and toothpaste with fluoride. Other ways to prevent plaque include eating a balanced diet and curbing snacks between meals. And, of course, visiting your dentist at least once a year for a professional cleaning and checkup is essential to a healthy mouth.
Learn more about fighting back against plaque. Contact Dr. Stanly Hirst, DDS, and Bethany Jensen, DDS, at Broadway Family Dentistry today by calling 701-839-1299 to schedule a check-up.

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