The long-term effects of plaque build up

Even if your teeth appear to be perfectly clean, there’s an invisible enemy that lurks in your mouth: plaque. The thin, sticky biofilm, which adheres to enamel, is full of bacteria that can harm the teeth and other oral tissues.

The acid produced by the bacteria found in plaque can wear away at the enamel, promoting tooth decay. If allowed to accumulate, plaque hardens, forming calculus, which is also known as tartar. Plaque can turn into tartar in as little as 10 days. Tartar is noticeable and unsightly and it detracts from the smile.

The bacteria found in plaque and tartar can harm the gums, leading to inflammation and, ultimately, periodontal disease. Advanced cases of periodontal disease can produce receding gums and tooth and bone loss. Beyond the impact on oral health, gum disease has also been linked to other conditions, including diabetes and heart disease.

Fortunately, routine brushing and flossing goes a long way toward keeping plaque at bay. You must take care to brush for a long enough time—about two minutes—and touch every tooth surface with your toothbrush. Your oral hygiene routine alone is not sufficient to eliminate plaque in the long-term, though. Regular visits to your dental practice are essential in the battle against plaque. Your teeth should be professionally cleaned at least twice a year.

Some patients are more prone to plaque build up than others due to genetic factors, and those patients may need to visit their dentists more frequently than semi-annually.

In addition to good oral hygiene habits, dietary changes can also reduce the accumulation of plaque. Avoid sweet treats whenever possible, as the bacteria in plaque feed on any sugary residues remaining in the mouth.

If it’s been more than six months since your last dental appointment, you should schedule a session at the office as soon as possible. Visit one of the best dentists in Dallas for a professional cleaning, and be sure to schedule appointments every six months after that initial check-up.