Plaque is a major threat to healthy teeth and gums and studies show that it can also increase the risk of potentially serious general health conditions, but what exactly is plaque and how does it harm your teeth?
What is plaque?
Plaque is a sticky colourless substance, which constantly forms in your mouth. You can often feel plaque if you run your tongue over your teeth having not brushed them for a while, for example in the morning. Plaque is easily removed with good oral hygiene, but it can be very dangerous if left alone. Plaque hardens and turns into tartar, which cannot be removed by standard brushing. Plaque is the main cause of dental diseases, including decay and gum disease and the best way of avoiding it is to remember to brush twice a day every day and keep on top of inter-dental cleaning, either by using inter-dental brushes or dental floss.
How does plaque harm the teeth?
Here are 3 ways plaque harms your teeth:
- Decay: plaque is the most common cause of tooth decay, a dental disease, which causes cavities to form in the outer layers of the teeth. The bacteria present in plaque released acids when they feed and this causes erosion of the enamel; once the enamel is worn, it is very hard to rebuild and the tooth is vulnerable to infection and injury.
- Gum disease: plaque acids irritate the gums and cause them to become painful and swollen; the outcome of this is commonly gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease. Plaque is constantly forming in the mouth and if it is not removed, it hardens and becomes tartar. Tartar beneath the gum line is a major cause of advanced gum disease, also known as periodontal disease.
- Bad breath: plaque contains bacteria, which release gases when they feed; these gases have an unpleasant odour and they cause bad breath. The best way to tackle bad breath is to maintain good oral hygiene at home and brush the teeth twice a day and floss daily.