Dr. Michael Handler

What is dental plaque?

What is it and how to remove it from your teeth?

A colourless film of bacteria called dental plaque is constantly forming on our teeth. If you don't brush your teeth soon enough or frequently enough after eating or drinking, bacteria in the mouth mix with sugary foods to produce acids that can destroy tooth enamel and cause cavities, gingivitis and tooth loss.

Plaque can also grow under the gums on the roots of our teeth and erode the bones that support teeth. Left untreated, plaque hardens into tartar, which can only be removed by a dentist, who uses specific tools such as a scaler to scrape plaque and tartar from the teeth during a dental cleaning.

It's critical to maintain a proper at-home oral hygiene routine, to remove plaque from our teeth and gums before it causes problems.

How can plaque affect oral health?

If you don't brush or floss, plaque can get into the crevices between teeth and collect on our gums, then harden into tartar.

Plaque and tartar buildup can lead to:
  • Tooth infection;
  • Severe infection in the gums;
  • Cavities;
  • Gingivitis;
  • Periodontal disease;
  • Tooth decay and loss;
  • If untreated gingivitis progresses to more serious periodontitis, this can lead to tooth and bone loss. Inflammatory gum disease can eventually negatively impact your overall systemic health, leading to diseases such as diabetes.

How can plaque be prevented?

Reducing the risk of and presence of plaque buildup comes down to good tooth and gum care.

  • Brush twice daily for two minutes each time with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste;
  • Floss daily with dental floss or a water flosser to eliminate food and plaque lodged between teeth;
  • Eat healthy foods and nutritious snacks;
  • Use mouthwash to keep your breath fresh;
  • Visit your dentist at least twice a year for dental checkups and cleanings.

During your dental exam, your dentist will closely check your teeth and gums for plaque, tartar and signs of other oral health issues, either before or after your dental hygienist performs a professional deep cleaning.

  • Prescription toothpaste or antibacterial mouthwash;
  • Dental sealants to keep plaque from forming on the tops of chewing surfaces of teeth;
  • Fluoride treatments to stop tooth decay and slow the growth of bacteria that cause plaque;
  • Dry mouth medications to increase saliva production.

To start, the hygienist will use a scaler to loosen plaque and tartar buildup between the teeth and along your gum line. Lastly, they will floss and polish your teeth to leave you with a clean, fresh smile.

Your cleaning may also include a fluoride treatment to help rebuild minerals in tooth enamel and prevent or reverse tooth decay.

Call 416-267-4661 to schedule an appointment. We can prevent, diagnose and treat dental issues.

Complete Oral Care

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