What is Dental Plaque?
Dental plaque (also known as biofilm) is a mass of bacteria that adheres to and grows on different surfaces within your mouth. While it’s most often associated with teeth, it can also grow on dentures, braces, underneath dental wires, and on any other other orthodontic appliance that sits in the mouth for an extended period of time.
The composition of plaque is mostly water (upwards of 80%) with the remaining portion consisting of bacteria and polysaccharides/glycoproteins.
Why is it bad?
Plaque itself is not difficult to remove so long as it’s done within 48 hours. After that, it hardens and turns into a far more formidable foe – tartar. While you can remove plaque at home by yourself, you need the intervention of a dentist to get rid of tartar.
Dental plaque that is not removed can cause tooth decay, gingivitis, and periodontal disease. If you allow it to harden into tartar, it will cause your teeth to look yellow and your breath to smell bad on top of the aforementioned risks to your oral health.
How do you get rid of it?
Prevention is key. Once plaque hardens into tartar, your only option to remove it is to see a professional. The key, then, is to prevent it from forming in the first place.
There are two things you can do to ensure your teeth are as clean and plaque free as possible:
- Watch what you eat – plaque needs carbohydrates to form, so the less of them you eat the better. Obviously it’s not realistic to completely cut carbs out of your diet, but the more you can avoid sweet treats like candy and cookies, the better.
- Maintain your teeth – make sure to brush and floss absolutely every day (twice a day for both is even better). Make sure to book a cleaning every six months so your dentist can remove any tartar that has managed to form. Your dentist can also make sure you don’t show any signs of tooth decay or gum disease.