You’ve most l
ikely heard of plaque, and are probably at least passingly familiar with what it is. Most people think of plaque as simple food residue. This isn’t exactly wrong, but plaque is actually a bit more complicated than that. A Midtown Miami, FL dentist explains below.
Plaque is actually a byproduct of a chemical reaction that happens after you eat. After you eat, some sugars and starches in your food get left behind. When you’re finished your food, it’s time for some of the bacteria that live in your mouth to have their meal. They digest these sugars and starches, and produce the sticky, harmful substance we all know and hate.
Why is plaque so harmful? Acid is actually to blame here. Plaque contains quite a bit of acid, which will eat away at your tooth enamel. This can begin a downward spiral of dental issues. One of the issues here is that the plaque can eventually get through your tooth enamel and reach the next layer. This layer is made of a yellow material called dentin. Dentin is porous, and it contains a lot of tiny tubes and fissures. These lead to the inner part of the tooth, which is where the nerves and pulp are. If that bacteria reaches that inner sanctum, it can cause all sorts of issues, such as infections, swelling, and pain. (This, in a nutshell, is also how cavities are born.)
Cavities aren’t the only issue plaque causes. If plaque isn’t removed, it will harden into tartar. This will eventually work its way beneath the gumline, where you can’t get it by brushing or flossing. Next, pockets begin to form. These pockets will slowly erode and destabilize your gums, as the bacteria continues to eat at your teeth. This, as you may know, is gum disease.
Understanding how plaque works can sometimes give people that ‘lightbulb’ moment, and make them understand why it’s so important to keep up with dental hygiene. Fortunately, small steps can make a big difference. Brush twice daily, using a toothpaste with fluoride. Follow up by rinsing with mouthwash. You’ll also need to floss once a day. Rinsing your mouth out after you eat will also help. Finally, visit your dentist regularly for cleanings.
Do you need to schedule an exam or cleaning? Contact us, your Midtown Miami, FL dentists, today!