Dental Plaque Is the Main Culprit for Gum Disease and Tooth Decay

Plaque Defined

Dental plaque is a colorless bio-film noted in the oral cavity. The plaque contains – salivary proteins, microorganisms and other byproducts of the microorganism. It is a soft, sticky substance made up of bacteria which forms on everybody’s teeth constantly. It builds up near gums and between teeth. The bacteria react with the foods or drinks you eat or drink and release acids that attack tooth enamel. If this takes place repeatedly the enamel will break down thereby causing cavities. If the plaque is not removed by thorough cleaning it hardens to become calculus or tartar.

Plaque and Gum Disease

Plaque is harmful to your gums but not to the teeth if you have not consumed foods and drink with starch and sugar. If you eat or drink foods that have starches and sugar the plaque bacteria act on them to produce plaque acids. These acids in turn erode the tooth surface by dissolving the hard minerals from tooth enamel.

Plaque and tooth decay

Plaque bacteria in your mouth ferment the sugars and starches in the food you eat and liquids you drink and produce acid. Within a few minutes of formation of this acid the pH value in your mouth drops to such a low level that your mouth becomes acidic and hence the demineralization or decaying of your teeth starts taking place. This demineralization is prevented by the saliva secretions which dilutes the acid formed. Saliva also helps in the process of remineralization wherein the repair of the damaged mineral crystals from the enamel takes place. If there is an imbalance between demineralization and remineralization it will cause dental caries or tooth decay. This tooth decay is not reversible.

Prevention

It is not possible to prevent formation of plaque; however, if you take the following actions you might inhibit the plaque formation.

  • You must brush your teeth with a soft, rounded-tip bristled toothbrush and fluoride-containing toothpaste at least two times a day.
  • Floss between teeth to remove food particles and bacteria at least once a day.
  • Have a dental check-up and teeth cleaning done by a dentist once in 6 months
  • Use dental sealants in consultation with your dentist on the chewing surfaces of teeth to protect them from cavities and decay.
  • You must eat a balanced diet and limit the number of between-meal snacks.
  • If you want to have a snack, choose nutritious foods such as plain fruit, yogurt, cheese or raw vegetables.
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