We’ve all been there — we wake up in the morning with teeth that feel unusually slick or filmy, and when we look in the mirror, our teeth look a bit dull. What we’re seeing is plaque, and it happens to everyone.
You probably know that a good brushing will remove it, but did you know that if left untended, it can lead to tooth loss? Here are five more things you never knew about plaque.
1. It’s the root cause of most oral diseases.
Plaque buildup at the gumline is bad news. If left for too long, the bacteria in plaque eat away at the tooth, causing decay and tooth loss. But if left for long enough, it can also cause the gums to become inflamed. This is called gingivitis, and is the predecessor to periodontal disease. If ignored, periodontal disease can lead to the destruction of not only gums, but also teeth and the surrounding bone structure of your jaw — all from a little plaque buildup.
2. It forms from sugar.
Your mouth naturally contains billions of bacteria, which make up plaque and which feed on carbohydrates and sugars in the foods you eat. The bacteria in the plaque then produce waste in the form of an acid, which eats away at the surface of your tooth and eventually causes decay, cavities, and tooth loss.
3. It can cause bad breath.
Though heavy plaque buildups are a yellowish color, most of it is clear. But just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean that other people don’t know it’s there. This is actually one of the leading causes of halitosis, or chronic bad breath. As the bacteria build up on your teeth and produce their acid waste, they also produce a strong and unpleasant odor that carries on your breath and can be repulsive to others around you.
4. Your toothbrush could be the problem.
If you’re brushing regularly twice a day and still seeing significant plaque build up, your toothbrush may be to blame. Toothbrushes need to be replaced every three months to do their job well, as the bristles wear down and fall out over time. You may also need to consider switching styles — studies show that electric toothbrushes remove “statistically significantly more plaque” than manual toothbrushes.
5. You can ward it off by chewing gum.
It’s not a myth — chewing gum really can help keep your teeth clean and free from plaque for longer. The catch here is that it has to be sugarless gum, as sugary chews will feed the naturally occurring bacteria in your mouth and actually contribute to plaque buildup. Trident is a classic choice for sugar-free gum, but your dentist may be able to recommend another as well.
Related: 5 Common Myths About Root Canals
The good news is that heavy plaque buildups can be avoided by regular brushing and flossing. At Imagine Dental, we recommend brushing twice daily to keep it under control. Once-a-day flossing should be enough, but if you have tight teeth, you may need to floss more frequently.
For more tips on preventing plaque buildup, give Imagine Dental a call at 480-719-6420.