Have you ever run your tongue over the surfaces of your teeth, only to cringe at the sticky uncomfortable film of stuff that covered them? That stuff is called plaque, and if it feels unnatural, that’s because it shouldn’t be there. Plaque can lead to a host of oral health issues, and at its worst, it may even contribute to some of our most serious chronic systemic illnesses. As complicated as its consequences may be, however, plaque’s formation can usually be thwarted with simple, but effective, dental hygiene habits. Dr. Ryan Hussong, dedicated Polk City dentist, explains why you should avoid plaque like the plague, and a few easy steps to accomplish this.
Recipe for Plaque
The first step to effectively avoid plaque’s sticky hold is to understand how and why plaque forms in the first place. At any given moment, there are over 600 different kinds of bacteria in your mouth. Some are harmless, some are helpful, and some are absolutely detrimental if allowed to run amok. One particular strain, known as Treponema denticola, produces a protein that allows the bacteria to stay together and adhere to your teeth and gums. The protein is similar to the protein produced by your immune system to allow immune cells to stick to invading microorganisms. Together, the collection of bacteria and the biofilm that protects them is known as dental plaque.
The Dangers of Plaque
Tooth decay and gum disease, two of the most common and destructive dental health issues, begin with the excessive formation of plaque. Some bacteria metabolize ingredients in your diet (mainly sugar and carbohydrates) to form acid, which saps your teeth of essential minerals and erodes your tooth enamel until bacteria can go past it and infect your tooth. Others accumulate along your gum line, irritating the gum tissue and inciting your body’s inflammatory defense against harmful agents. The inflammation destroys the connective tissue between your gums and teeth, causing the gums to pull away and eventually leading to tooth loss. Gum disease is the number one cause of adult tooth loss in America, and it can spell the continued destruction of your gums and jawbone if left unchecked.
Defeat Plaque Before it Forms
The best defense against the formation of plaque, as well as the destruction that it leads to, is to adamantly follow the steps of proper oral hygiene. Brush your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes each session, and floss at least once to dislodge plaque and food debris from between your teeth. You may also benefit from an antibacterial mouthrinse once or twice a day for added protection against germs. Also, never underestimate the power of a dental checkup and cleaning, which you should attend at least once every six months. During your visit, Dr. Hussong can inspect your mouth for early signs of decay or disease, which could improve your chance of successful treatment. To learn more about plaque control, schedule a consultation with your Polk City dentist by calling Cornerstone Dental at (515) 984-6001. We serve families from Des Moines, Polk City, Ames, Ankeny, Alleman, Bondurant, Grimes, Johnston, and the surrounding communities