Where does dental plaque and decay come from?

Your mouth harbours bacteria due to the warm, moist environment. Bacteria love this environment and they make it their home. When bacteria are not reduced correctly, a coating of sticky residue builds up on your teeth known as plaque. This is when problems with your teeth and gums begin and often leads you to visiting the dentist for help. There are a few reasons that gum and tooth problems are caused by the build-up of plaque. It is really important to remember that these problems are completely preventable if you look after your teeth and gums in the way that you should.

Build-up of plaque

Acid is produced from the foods and drinks you eat. Acid production is particularly associated with eating and drinking sugary foods. As plaque continues to build up on your teeth, the plaques stickiness keeps the acid stuck to your teeth enamel. This can cause the acid to start to interfere with the tooth enamel eventually leading to it breaking down. Acid production is highest after eating, with plaque formation starting within about twenty minutes.

As well as it affecting your teeth, the same acids can start an infection in your gums as well as the bones which help to keep your teeth in position. If you do not correctly remove all of the plaque from your teeth effectively, tartar can start to form, which is hardened plaque. Tartar gives the opportunity for plaque to keep building up.

Gingivitis or gum disease can cause your gums to become inflamed, red and swollen. You may find that they bleed easily, especially when you are brushing your teeth. If you do not practice good oral hygiene, leaving plaque and tartar at the gum line and underneath the gums then it is possible for bacteria to cause problems in ligaments and bones that surround the teeth. This can lead to periodontitis, which is a severe form of gum disease.

How can I prevent problems happening?

Practising good oral hygiene can prevent these problems occurring. Use a soft toothbrush twice a day to help prevent bacterial build up and reduce the amount of plaque on your teeth. Clean around the gum line thoroughly. Brushing within 20 minutes of eating can help too. Make sure you change your toothbrush regularly. Dentists recommend that you do this at least every 6 months. Flossing is another important way you can look after your teeth. Do this once per day. This helps to reach parts of your teeth that normal brushing is unable too. Your dentist can help you to learn how to floss effectively.