Plaque & Gingivitis
What is plaque?
Your teeth are covered with a sticky film called plaque that can contribute to tooth decay and gum disease. Plaque contains bacteria, which following a meal or snack containing sugar can release acids that attack tooth enamel. Repeated attacks can cause the enamel to break down, eventually resulting in cavities. Plaque that is not removed with thorough daily brushing and cleaning between teeth can eventually harden into calculus or tartar. This makes it more difficult to keep your teeth clean.
When tartar collects above the gum line, the gum tissue can become swollen and may bleed easily. This is called gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease. You can prevent plaque buildup and keep your teeth cavity-free by regularly visiting the dentist, brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and cleaning between your teeth with dental floss daily.
Originally published by ADA.org:
What is gingivitis?
Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease. Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an infection of the tissues that surround your teeth, and is caused by a buildup of plaque. In its early stages, symptoms may include:
- Gums that bleed easily
- Red, swollen, tender gums
- Bad breath
Some factors that can put you at higher risk of developing gingivitis include:
- Poor dental care
- Smoking or chewing tobacco
- Crooked teeth that are hard to keep clean
- Medications, including steroids, certain types of anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer therapy drugs, some calcium channel blockers and oral contraceptives
Originally published by the ADA:
Once a day is good, but the American Dental Association (ADA) says to brush twice a day. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and a fluoride toothpaste.
“Brushing twice daily prevents plaque from forming in the first place and disrupts any plaque that has already started to form and mature,” says JoAnn R. Gurenlian, PhD. She’s a professor in the department of dental hygiene at Idaho State University.
Make sure you get to all the areas of your mouth with your toothbrush, including teeth, gums, tongue, and the insides of your cheeks. In general, the process should take about 2 minutes.
There may not be much of a fun factor to flossing, but cleaning between your teeth every day can have a crucial impact on your oral health.
If you have a tough time reaching certain parts of your mouth to floss, ask your dentist about interdental brushes, floss aides, or water- or air-flossing devices.
“Mouthwash is used to freshen breath,” Gurenlian says. “An antiseptic mouth rinse, however, actually helps reduce the bacterial load found in plaque.”
Using mouth rinse prevents plaque buildup more than just brushing and flossing alone. Gurenlian suggests a 30-second swish twice each day as part of your tooth-cleaning routine.
The hardest foods to remove from your teeth are the ones that cling when you chew. Think raisins, granola bars, or sticky candy. Sugary and starchy foods are some of the most harmful to teeth, too.
“If sugar is not removed from your teeth shortly after you eat it, plaque uses it to help create tooth decay,” Gurenlian says. The faster you can get food off your teeth, the less likely you are to get cavities.
It’s key to have someone who knows teeth keep tabs on yours. See your dentist and dental hygienist on a regular basis, so they can look for signs of disease.
How often you have to go will depend in part on how well you care for your teeth. Most people have to visit only twice a year.
Visit your dentist
This might sound scary, but at this stage the disease is still reversible. Eliminating the infection can be as easy as trip to the dentist office for a professional cleaning, as well as daily brushing and flossing.
Because gum disease is usually painless, you may not know you have it. This is why it’s important to schedule regular dental checkups in addition to maintaining a good dental routine of brushing and flossing.
Originally published by webmd.com: