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Plaque is an invisible film of bacteria that sticks to teeth. Not only does dental plaque feed on sugar, but it erodes tooth enamel and increases your risk for tooth decay and gum disease. The best way to avoid plaque buildup is to practice good oral hygiene and schedule a dental appointment at least every 6 months.
Here are several ways you can remove plaque and tartar from teeth.
What is Dental Plaque and Tartar?
First, let’s start off by explaining what dental plaque is and how it affects your oral health.
Dental plaque is an invisible film of bacteria that live inside your mouth. When you eat something sugary, these bacteria eat the food particles left behind on your teeth and gums. Then, they produce an acid that erodes your tooth enamel and attacks your gums. The more plaque and tartar you have, the higher your risk of developing cavities and gum disease.
While everyone has bacteria inside their mouths, it’s your responsibility to make sure plaque doesn’t harden into what’s called “tartar.” Unlike plaque, tartar can only be removed by a dental professional. This is why it’s important that you schedule a teeth cleaning and oral examination with us at least every 6 months.
Brush and Floss Teeth
Bacteria love to live in dark moist environments—like inside your mouth. When you eat sugary foods, the bacteria produce an acid that erodes tooth enamel and attacks gum tissue.
Plaque on teeth is one of the leading causes of tooth decay and gum disease. For this reason, you’ll want to make sure you brush your teeth twice a day and floss once daily. Brushing your teeth helps remove plaque that’s living on the surface.
Schedule a Dental Checkup
The best way tofrom your teeth is to schedule a dental checkup every 6 months. During your teeth cleaning appointment, a dental hygienist will be able to gently scrape away plaque with a tool called a scaler.
While you can remove most plaque at home, a dental hygienist uses special tools to reach plaque hiding in between teeth and along the gum line. A dental hygienist is also able to remove hardened plaque (tartar).
Once plaque hardens into tartar, you’ll need to schedule an appointment with our dentist. You can’t remove tartar from teeth on your own. If you have tartar, you’ll want to schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Tartar buildup increases your risk of cavities and periodontal disease.
There are ways our dentist can help you prevent plaque and tartar buildup. For example, if you have deep divots and grooves in back teeth, your dentist may recommend dental sealants. Dental sealants prevent cavities caused by plaque buildup.
Re-Evaluate Your Oral Hygiene Routine
If you aren’t having any luck with plaque removal after following our tips, ask yourself if you’re doing everything you can to protect your oral health. For example, many patients don’t brush their teeth long enough to remove plaque.
Most dentists agree that it should take at least 2 minutes to thoroughly brush your teeth. Also, make sure that you’re not neglecting back teeth during your oral hygiene routine.
If you aren’t already, it’s a good idea to use a mouthwash containing fluoride. Fluoride helps strengthen teeth by giving enamel much-needed minerals. The acids in plaque aren’t able to erode teeth as easily once they’re fortified with fluoride. Swishing mouthwash also helps rinse away debris from brushing and flossing. A good oral hygiene routine is the best form of.
Eat a Healthy Diet
The best way to steer clear of plaque and tartar is to make dietary changes to prevent plaque from building up on your teeth. Eating crunchy fruits and vegetables such as apples or carrots can actually scrape plaque off your teeth, which is ideal if you’re at school or work and it’s not convenient to brush them.
Likewise, fruits and vegetables contain a lot of healthy vitamins and minerals that can help strengthen your teeth and make them more resistant to bacteria over time. It’s also important to stay hydrated, as water, especially fluoridated tap water, can wash away food particles, stimulate the production of saliva, and help you maintain good oral health.
Eating a balanced nutritious diet will also help improve your overall well-being. This is because the body is made up of interconnected systems. In fact, sometimes our dentist can detect health issues outside the mouth (like diabetes) during your oral examination. This is just one example of how your oral health is connected to your overall well-being.
To learn more about changing your diet, check out our blog post on the best foods for healthy teeth.
Ask About Our Gum Disease Treatments
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 47.2% of Americans age 30 and older have periodontitis. While gingivitis (gum inflammation) can be reversed with good oral hygiene, the same can’t be said once it develops into the later stage of gum disease called periodontitis.
Once you have periodontitis, your gums will start to pull away from your teeth. This exposes your tooth roots, which will make your teeth more sensitive to heat and cold. Dental plaque and tartar can also hide in these deep pockets around teeth. In this situation, Dr. Habecker would recommend scaling and root planing.
During scaling and root planing, we remove plaque and tartar deposits in deep gum pockets. We also smooth out your tooth roots during the procedure. Scaling and root planing helps prevent gum disease from worsening.
Request an Appointment with Dr. Habecker
Dr. Brenton Habecker and his team are dedicated to helping you maintain good oral health by removing plaque and tartar buildup. To request an appointment with our dentist in Holland, MI, call Macatawa Smiles at (616) 396-7524.
This blog post has been updated.