July 7, 2019
Have you ever gone a while without brushing your teeth? Did you run your tongue along your teeth and notice that they felt kind of “fuzzy?” That feeling is caused by accumulation of plaque, a colorless sticky film left behind on the teeth when you neglect to brush for a while. How exactly does it form? How can you keep it at bay? Let’s take a closer look at 6 ways to prevent plaque build-up.
How Does Plaque Form and What Does It Do?
When you frequently consume carbohydrates, or sugars and starches, and don’t brush afterwards, those carbohydrates are left on the teeth. These bits of food combine with bacteria that is already present in the mouth to form plaque. The bacteria then produce acids which eat away at tooth enamel and create cavities. When you abstain from brushing or flossing for long enough, bacteria in plaque can even reach beneath the gumline and erode at the bone structures supporting a tooth. Now let’s look at 6 ways to keep this from happening:
1. Brush Your Teeth Twice a Day
Use a toothbrush with soft, rounded-tip bristles. Be sure to gently brush the area where teeth meet gums, as that is where plaque likes to accumulate. Use toothpaste that has fluoride to strengthen the teeth and protect against decay.
2. Floss Once a Day
Flossing removes particles of food from between the teeth that, when left there, can attract bacteria and form plaque.
3. Use a Mouth Rinse
Rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash is a great way to flush out the bacteria that can cause plaque.
4. Eat a Balanced Diet
Sugary snacks and beverages are like catnip to bacteria. Make sure to limit the amount of sugary foods, and between-meal snacks in general, that you have to keep plaque at bay. Substitute these foods for healthy ones like Greek yogurt, cheese, or fresh fruits and veggies.
5. Visit Your Dentist
Make sure to see your dentist for a regular checkup every six months. Your dental hygienist can give you a professional cleaning using special instruments to remove tartar, or plaque that is hardened and can cause decay and gum disease. Since you can’t remove tartar by yourself, it’s important to get a dental professional to do it twice a year.
6. Ask Your Dentist About Sealants
Dental sealants are thing plastic coatings that are applied to the chewing surfaces of your teeth. They protect teeth from cavities and decay. Although they are usually used for children who have trouble reaching their molars to brush them, they can be used for people of any age.
Preventing plaque from building up is pretty easy. Just follow these 6 steps, and make sure to ask your dentist if you have any more questions.
About the Author
Dr. Christopher Pollard earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree in 1988 from Baylor College of Dentistry. Now he combines his loves of science and helping others at Dental Renaissance in Plano, TX. He is a member of multiple professional organizations, such as the American Dental Association and the Texas Dental Association. To learn more about how to prevent plaque build-up, you can reach Dr. Pollard through his website or at (972)-423-0880.
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