What is Dental plaque?
Dental plaque is a sticky film-like coating covering the tooth surface. It is formed through bacteria, byproducts formed by bacteria, and carbohydrates consumed through meals containing sugar and starch.
Plaque is the most common cause of dental caries and periodontal diseases. If the plaque remains escapes from normal oral hygiene and is not removed from its teeth surface then it hardens in the form of calculus or tartar.
Dental plaque is sticky but soft enough that it can be removed at home with proper oral hygiene practices but when it turns into hard calculus or tartar form then it should be removed by the dentist at the dental clinic as it is impossible to remove at home.
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Why is it important to Remove Plaque from the Teeth?
Bacterial colonies in the plaque produce acids and damage tooth enamel and over time dental cavities may form. Studies show 1 gram weight of plaque contains around 10¹¹ bacteria.
Plaque accumulation on the gum line or gingival margin for a longer period causes inflammation of the gums and causes a common problem of Gum bleeding.
Plaque that accumulates below the gingival margin (subgingivally), causes periodontal diseases and root caries. It causes periodontitis and teeth may lose over time if any action has not been taken.
That’s why it is important to remove plaque from the teeth.
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How to Remove and Prevent Plaque on Teeth?
Optimal oral hygiene and proper diet are the main factors to remove and control and get rid of plaque.
Brushing teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush removes a significant amount of plaque from the teeth surfaces; however, it does not remove plaque completely from the mouth. You can also go with a powered or electric toothbrush for ease in brushing your teeth. Check out our well-researched article on the difference between Manual toothbrushes vs Electric toothbrushes.
Flossing teeth with dental floss removes plaque that remains untouched with toothbrushing. Flossing cleans proximal surfaces (sides of teeth) of teeth which is impossible to clean with a toothbrush. That’s why it is important to floss at least once a day to remove plaque.
If you have greater space in between your teeth you can even interdental brush and other interdental cleaning aids to clean that area.
Dentists may apply pit and fissure sealant if your teeth have deep pits and fissures to reduce the accumulation of plaque. It reduces the chances of cavities. So it is important to visit every 6 months for regular dental checkups.
Chlorhexidine gluconate mouthwash reduces bacteria in the mouth and prevents plaque buildup on your teeth. However, overuse of Chlorhexidine mouthwash stains teeth, so use it as per your dentist’s guidance.
Highly sugary, acidic, and sticky food consumption should be avoided for good oral health. You can add more fiber-rich food to your diet for overall good health.