All of your life, you’ve been told that plaque is bad. The rules are: brush twice a day, floss once a day, and go to six-month checkups and cleanings so that you can keep plaque from destroying your teeth and gums. While you know that plaque can wreak havoc on oral health, do you know what’s in plaque? Do you know why it’s bad?
In every milligram of dental plaque, there are about ten billion bacteria of approximately 400 types. The matrix of plaque is made from saliva and bacteria, and it includes proteins, lipids (fats), polysaccharides (sugars, calcium, and phosphorus).
Plaque is the yellowish buildup that makes your teeth feel fuzzy or rough. It naturally accumulates on our teeth every day. Many people don’t know that and plaque plays a role in building up our immune system. Teeth don’t shed an outer layer like skin does, so we have to purposefully remove dental plaque to ensure bacteria do not get out of control.
Flossing and brushing teeth, using a tongue scraper, and rinsing with anti-bacterial or anti-plaque mouthwash helps control bacterial plaque. However, over time, the residue we leave behind hardens into tartar or calculus. This calcified form of plaque can’t be removed with brushing and flossing. A hygienist has to use a handheld tool or ultrasonic machine to loosen and remove calculus.
When plaque and calculus are left in the mouth, bacteria run rampant. Sensitive gum tissue becomes irritated as calculus rubs against it. In fact, calculus and plaque can build up below the gum line, where you can’t see. All of this is a recipe for gum disease, a chronic infection that afflicts about 80% of Americans. Gum disease has been linked to systemic health problems, ranging from heart disease and stroke to dementia and certain cancers.
So, that’s the scoop on dental plaque. If you feel like you need to rush to your sink and brush your teeth, good!
To schedule your checkup, cleaning, or consultation with Dr. Wager or Dr. Evans, call Wager Evans Dental in Reno, NV today at 775-829-7700.