A healthy smile adds so much to our appearance; we all desire to sport healthy, vibrant smiles as we present ourselves to the rest of the world. Tartar and plaque buildup on our teeth can rob us of some of that vibrancy and put us at increased risk for cavities and other dental maladies.

What is plaque?

Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that builds up on teeth over time. The bacteria present in plaque produces acid after you eat and drink, which can wear down and weaken tooth enamel. If enough plaque is allowed to stay on teeth, it can cause the development of gingivitis or gum disease.

Unfortunately, tooth surfaces aren’t the only thing affected by the formation of plaque. Plaque can also build up and accumulate under the gumline, wreaking havoc on tooth roots and evening weakening bone structures.

How does plaque develop?

Everyone develops plaque to some degree. You may be more prone to its development if you consume starchy or sugary food and drink, if you take antidepressants or other oral medication that can dehydrate mouth tissues, or if you smoke or drink alcohol. the good news is, staying on top of it not only minimizes the damage that plaque can cause, but you’ll also improve your oral health in the long run.

How can I tell if I have plaque on my teeth?

If your teeth feel fuzzy or rough when you run your tongue over them, you likely have some plaque buildup. Other indicators that plaque is present include persistent bad breath and bleeding gums.

What happens if plaque buildup becomes excessive?

If you don’t proactively manage your plaque buildup with a combination of daily oral care habits and regular dentist visits, you are at increased risk for dental complications, including:

  • Cavities
  • Gum disease
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Periodontitis (severe gum degeneration)
  • Tooth infection
  • Tooth loss

Knowing how to care for your teeth and how to prevent the formation of plaque is an essential part of maintaining good oral health.

How can I get rid of plaque?

With some daily oral hygiene practices like brushing and flossing, you’ll clean away surface plaque and keep most of it from building up. More stubborn deposits of plaque can be removed by your dentist at a regular cleaning. For teeth with softer enamel surfaces, a sealant can be applied to fortify tooth surfaces and prevent plaque buildup.

Prevention is key!

With oral care, prevention is key to maintaining good health. Follow these steps to ensure that your mouth remains healthy and plaque-free:

  • Floss daily to remove excess food debris from hard to reach places
  • Brush at least twice daily, and more if you consume sugary or acidic snacks
  • Chew sugarless gum to encourage saliva production
  • Drink adequate amounts of water
  • Eat a healthy diet low in sugary and processed foods
  • Commit to seeing your dentist at least twice yearly for professional cleaning and assessment of your oral health

Following these steps will ensure that you enjoy your most vibrant and healthy smile. At New Smiles Dental, we are committed to providing you with the tools and knowledge necessary to uncover that brilliant smile. From cleaning and implants to cosmetic treatments and dental counseling, we work with you to craft an individualized care plan that works for you and your budget. Contact us today to set up your next appointment. Visit https://www.virginianewsmiles.com/ for more information.