Dental Plaque: The Monster in Your Mouth
You can defeat dental plaque!
Have you ever run your tongue over your teeth and found that they feel like a fuzzy monster? If so, what you are feeling is dental plaque. Don’t worry if you have some plaque because everyone has to deal with it sometimes. But when that fuzzy plaque turns into bad breath or red, swollen, and tender gums that bleed after brushing, it has gotten out of control.
What is dental plaque?
Dental plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on your teeth. Bacteria in plaque create acids after you consume foods and beverages. These acids destroy tooth enamel over time and lead to cavities and gum disease. When this plaque builds up, it can become calcified (hardened) and is often referred to as dental calculus.
Unfortunately, plaque can also develop under the gums on the roots of your teeth, breaking down the bones that support your teeth. Left untreated, dental plaque hardens into tough-to-remove tartar. And though some people are more likely to get more dental plaque than others, in general, a daily oral hygiene routine that includes brushing and flossing can help stop plaque in its tracks.
Who is more likely to develop dental plaque?
Like we said, everyone can develop dental plaque, and it is actually quite normal. But certain conditions and behaviors make it more likely for you to develop plaque than someone else. For example, you will be more likely to experience dental plaque if you:
- Consume an excessive amount of sugary or starchy food or beverages
- Have dry mouth
- Have received head or neck radiation
- Smoke or use tobacco products
- Do not practice proper daily oral hygiene
How can you prevent plaque buildup?
The best thing you can do to protect your oral health and avoid dental plaque buildup is to take care of your teeth and gums. Every day, be sure to brush your teeth twice a day (especially after your last meal of the day and before you go to bed), floss once per day, especially after your evening meal, and rinse with a fluoridated microbial mouthwash. Additionally, you should do the following to avoid dental plaque buildup and help prevent childhood cavities.
- Drink water with every meal, and finish your meal with a few sips of water. This can help loosen any food particles in your mouth and rinse them away.
- Drink at least five to seven cups of water per day. Staying hydrated will help you produce enough saliva (spit) to protect your teeth and gums. And this will help you avoid a dry mouth.
- Brush your tongue every time you brush your teeth. Dental plaque can develop on your tongue, so although it might feel strange or tickle a bit, brushing your tongue can help rid your body of dental plaque and make your breath fresher.
- Select foods and snacks that align with a well-balanced diet. Choose tooth-friendly, fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, such as apples, bananas, carrots, berries, pears, and sweet potatoes. Select cheese, milk, and plain yogurt for snacks, and chew sugarless chewing gum instead of the sugary kinds.
- Avoid excess sugars and starches whenever possible. Common sources of sugar include desserts, sodas, candies, and various other sweet snacks. Sticky candies and sweets can get stuck in your teeth and are difficult to remove, even with a toothbrush and floss. Particles from starchy foods, like bread and potato chips, can get stuck between your teeth. And carbonated, caramel-colored soft drinks can not only stain your teeth but erode dental enamel. If you are an adult, know that alcohol and certain medications can dry out your mouth as well, making it easier for dental plaque to develop.
- Have your parents take you to the dentist every six months for a dental cleaning and oral examination. Your dentist has a unique tool called a scaler that can help remove plaque buildup from your teeth as well as your gumline.
Overdue for a dental cleaning? Have your parents request an appointment with Pediatric Dental Specialists.
If you live in Grand Island, Hastings, North Platte, or Omaha, and you are due for a dental cleaning or have never had one, now is the time to ask your parents to request an appointment for you. Our dentists and hygienists are experienced and caring and offer dental care for children of all ages and the latest dental technology to make your appointment comfortable and pain-free.
We’re confident that you and your parents will love our fun environment and appreciate the expertise our children’s dental specialists offer. We can’t wait to see you and help you combat the fuzzy dental plaque monster.