Understanding Plaque: What It Is and How to Prevent It

Have you ever heard your dentist say something along the lines of “You should do this to prevent plaque buildup”? Many of us do, too, and often we nod yes, not necessarily knowing what it actually is. 

Here at Smith and Van Lierop Dentistry, we believe in educating our patients to empower them to take better care of their oral health. That’s why we want to provide you with an in-depth explanation of this dental concern and ways to prevent it. 

What is plaque?

Plaque is a soft, sticky layer accumulating on the teeth, teeming with millions of bacteria. These bacteria are primarily responsible for tooth decay and gum disease, and if it isn’t removed regularly, it can solidify into tartar. The composition of plaque primarily includes bacteria, along with bits of food and saliva. 

The dangers of plaque

Buildup can lead to several dental health issues:

  • Cavities: Acids are produced by the bacteria in plaque, which can erode tooth enamel, creating cavities.
  • Gum Disease: It can cause the irritation of gums, leading to gingivitis and, in severe cases, periodontitis.
  • Bad Breath: The bacteria can also cause persistent bad breath.

How to prevent plaque buildup 

  1. Brush regularly: Brushing your teeth twice daily, particularly after meals, is crucial for efficiently removing food remnants and bacteria lodged between your teeth and near the gumline. 
  2. Use the right toothbrush: A soft-bristled brush is best. Think about using an electric toothbrush, as it can be more useful for removing plaque. 
  3. Floss daily: It’s crucial to floss every day to eliminate plaque from areas between your teeth and below the gum line, which are often inaccessible to your toothbrush. 
  4. Rinse with mouthwash: Antimicrobial mouth rinses can help reduce plaque and remove remaining food particles. 
  5. Regular dental checkups: Visit Smith and Van Lierop Dentistry for regular checkups and cleanings. Our professionals can remove tartar, which you can’t do on your own. 
  6. Eat a balanced diet: Limit sugary and starchy foods. 
  7. Stay hydrated: Drinking water helps wash away food particles and keeps your saliva levels high. 

Understanding and managing plaque is vital for maintaining oral health. Adhering to these straightforward practices can greatly minimise the accumulation of plaque and lower the chances of developing cavities and gum diseases. Keep in mind maintaining oral health is a key step towards overall bodily health. 

Schedule your next visit 

Contact Smith and Van Lierop Dentistry today to schedule your next cleaning and checkup. We’re here to help you keep your smile bright and healthy!