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What Is Plaque and Why Is It a Problem?

What Is Plaque and Why Is It a Problem?

When you were growing up, your parents and dentist always told you to brush your teeth, right? That’s because they knew something you didn’t: If you didn’t clean your teeth, bacteria would take over and cause oral health issues.

Those issues are primarily due to plaque. Here at Smile Design Manhattan, plaque is a mortal enemy, and our entire team is sworn to defeat it to protect the oral health of our patients.

Here’s more about plaque and why it’s harmful.

What is plaque?

Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on your teeth. Along with bacteria, it includes food particles, sugars, and saliva. Plaque is technically colorless but can cause tooth discoloration if food particles stick to your teeth. 

More than 700 species of bacteria exist in your mouth. That’s billions of individual bacteria living there that you don’t even think about, but they’re certainly active.

When you eat, they feed on the carbohydrates, sugars, and food particles left over, breaking down the food into a sticky, acidic film that settles on your teeth. That’s plaque.

Once on your teeth, the bacteria produce acids that eat away at the enamel covering your teeth. The bacteria can then infect the inner parts of your teeth and gums — if you let them. 

Producing plaque is normal. It’s what you do with the plaque that can promote or endanger your oral health.

What problems can plaque cause?

If you don’t regularly brush your teeth, plaque hardens into tartar, which you can’t brush or floss away; it requires professional dental tools. If it’s not removed, tartar can destroy your teeth and gums. The bacteria infect the pulp inside your teeth, causing decay and cavities. 

If it’s still not treated, the plaque advances to infect your gums, causing gingivitis, periodontitis, and eventually, tooth loss. 

Your overall health can be at risk as well. Bacteria can enter your bloodstream, leading to infection and inflammation throughout your body. That could trigger a chronic immune response and lead to diabetes.

How to prevent plaque buildup

The best way to reduce plaque is to brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss at least once a day, cut back on sugary, starchy foods and drinks, and visit your dentist at least twice a year for professional-grade cleanings. Mouthwash can help as well.

If you’re due for a professional cleaning to remove as much plaque as possible from your teeth, Smile Design Manhattan can help. Call our office in the Midtown West neighborhood of New York City or book your visit online today.


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