You’ve probably heard of plaque and just how bad it can be for your oral health, either from your dentist or every toothpaste and toothbrush commercial you’ve seen. But do you really know what it is? And should you be concerned?
What is dental plaque?
Dental plaque, or tooth plaque, is a deposit made of bacteria and dietary sugars that forms on the surface of teeth.
Tartar or calculus is basically calcified and hardened plaque, which is harder to remove and much more problematic than regular plaque. Tartar usually sticks to your teeth and can only be detached by a dentist using specific dental tools.
Why bother to remove dental plaque?
It’s normal to have small amounts of plaque, as this can easily be removed by brushing. It’s only when the plaque hardens and builds into tartar that you should visit your dentist right away. When left unattended, tartar can increase your risk for gum inflammation and infection.
Mild gum problems like gingivitis is a key cause of halitosis, discomfort, and irritation, while severe gum problems like periodontitis can lead to complete tooth loss. This isn’t to scare you or anything, only to take the threat of plaque and tartar more seriously.
Getting rid of plaque
The easiest way to remove plaque and keep it in check is to engage in regular oral health care. That means:
• Brushing twice daily
• Flossing twice daily
• Changing toothbrushes every 3 months
• Visiting a dentist twice annually for checkups and cleanings or as recommended by your dentist
Remember, when it comes to plaque and tartar, prevention is better than cure. The best defense against plaque buildup is regular home care backed by regular professional dental cleaning. Your dentist can alert you of more serious issues and can formulate an oral health plan to prevent problems due to dental plaque..