How to avoid plaque build-up
Plaque is the transparent, slippery coating that constantly forms on our teeth. It is the result of the interaction between sugars in the food and drinks we consume, and the bacteria that is naturally found in our mouths. It may look harmless enough, but plaque can be seriously bad news for your teeth. This is because plaque produces acids that continuously attack the outermost layer of our teeth, eating away at it until the inner, more sensitive layers are exposed. This damage is called decay, and it is progressive, painful, and can lead to infection and tooth loss. In addition to decay, plaque can lead to another progressive and potentially serious oral health issue – gum disease.
Gum disease occurs when plaque spreads onto the gums and the bacteria cause irritation and infection of the soft tissue. Over time, this can cause the gums to recede, abscesses to form and the structures supporting the teeth to be compromised, putting your teeth at risk of falling out. Studies have also shown that patients with moderate to severe gum disease are more likely to be found experiencing other chronic health problems, like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart problems.
It’s pretty clear that plaque needs to be dealt with – pronto. Here are our top tips to avoid plaque build-up and to keep your teeth and smile healthy and looking fantastic.
Brush your teeth
Most of us are taught the importance of brushing our teeth from an early age, but even well-established habits can slip after time, and many people are guilty of cutting corners when it comes to keeping their teeth clean. Make sure you:
Brush for at least two minutes twice each day
Use a soft-bristled toothbrush
Opt for an electric toothbrush where possible
Use a fluoride toothpaste
If you need any additional tips on the best techniques for brushing, your dentist will be happy to advise you.
Don’t forget to floss
Whether accidentally or on purpose, many people ‘forget’ to floss their teeth. Nevertheless, flossing is a crucial part of keeping your teeth clean and plaque at bay. This is because brushing only removes an estimated 65-70% of bacteria and plaque from the teeth. Flossing gets in all the tiny gaps that your toothbrush can’t reach, ensuring that all plaque is fully removed on a daily basis. Choose from regular floss, interdental brushes, or more technologically-advanced solutions like water flossers – whatever you can get to grips with the easiest!
Don’t skip visits to your dentist
When you aren’t experiencing pain or any other obvious dental issue, it can be tempting to delay visiting your dentist. Nevertheless, your dental professional is just as valuable for preventing dental issues from arising as they are for treating them. Studies show that attending scheduled visits to your dentist and having regular professional dental cleans can help to keep all manner of dental problems at bay, including decay and gum disease. Factor in that only your dentist can remove hardened areas of plaque, called tartar, and it makes perfect sense why you should see your dentist several times each year.
Choose your snacks wisely
Snacking between meals can play havoc with our dental health. We don’t usually get a chance to brush our teeth after a snack, and this means that the sugars you’ve consumed and the bacteria in your mouth will have plenty of time to ramp up plaque production and start causing damage to your smile. Try and make wise snack choices that are low in sugar and wash them down with water which is the healthiest beverage choice for your body and teeth.
For more advice on how to avoid plaque build-up, please give our expert dental team a call – they will be happy to help!