Dental Care

Dental Plaque and Your Health

Just what is dental plaque?  It is a sticky, colorless deposit of food particles combined with bacteria and saliva that coats the surfaces of your teeth. 

It pools around the base of your teeth and smothers the gums. 

You can expect it to begin forming approximately four to twelve hours after you've brushed your teeth, and it's not going to do you any good. 

Here we have some great ways to detect it, neutralize it, and get rid of it!

Plaque Disclosing Tablets

Most people think of plaque disclosing tablets in association with dental health programs presented at elementary schools.  But adults have much to learn about tooth brushing as well! 

It is possible to miss up to thirty percent of your teeth surfaces when you brush-which is why we will talk more about flossing and rinses -and plaque disclosing tablets help to demonstrate where you are missing. 

They work like this:  You chew a tablet, and then you look at your teeth in the mirror.  The plaque in every place that you missed brushing will be colored by the dye in the tablet.  You can also buy two-tone tablets:  You chew one tablet to reveal all your plaque and then brush, and then you chew another tablet.  The plaque that remains after your brushing shows up in a different color so you can really see where you need to be more effective with your routine. 

The dye, by the way, is harmless.  It will not cause any trouble when adults or little ones swallow it.  You can buy this product as a solution if you do not want to chew the tablets.

Dental Floss

Now that you have seen how much you miss when you brush, you can understand why it's so important to floss at least once a day. 

Dental floss is a slender nylon string, waxed or unwaxed, that fits between your teeth.  Most people should use unwaxed; waxed works better if your teeth are tightly spaced.  Some types are flavored, and the flavoring will not hurt your teeth. 

To practice with real floss, take a length about a foot or more.  Wrap one end around the middle finger of each hand.  Use your index fingers and thumbs to control the floss.  Insert it between each pair of teeth in your mouth, starting at the upper right rear of your mouth.  Scrape it up and down each tooth and then move to the next space. 

If you have not practiced with real floss before, you can buy floss picks.  They have tiny pieces of floss stretched across disposable plastic picks so that you can direct the floss by moving the pick.  In fact, the picks are handy to carry around for use if you are out of the house on a full schedule all day long.  Plaque does not wait for you to have spare time! 

Sugar-Free Gum

Chewing sugar-free gum prevents dental plaque.  You must be certain that it's sugar free, or you will do your teeth more harm than good. 

Your chewing action generates saliva, which in turn neutralizes and even eliminates some of the acids that form in your mouth after a meal. 

As a bonus, the minerals in your saliva will help to remineralize your teeth, providing further protection from tooth decay. 

Mouth Rinses

You can go beyond old-fashioned breath-freshening mouthwashes for true advances in oral care nowadays. 

One of the best products on the market today is antiplaque, antigingivitis mouth rinse. It will kill the germs that contribute to plaque formation. 

Because your mouth is at rest at night -you are not brushing your teeth, you are not drinking water- dental plaque, food particles and bacteria in your saliva have free reign to coat your teeth and do their worst, so rinse before bedtime.

Dental Scaling and Root Planing

Each time you visit your dentist, the first thing he or his hygienist does is clean your teeth from dental plaque and its effects. 

Dental scaling is the part when a pick is reached deep into your interdental spaces to scrape out tartar-which is what you call hardened plaque. 

If you have been absent for longer than six months, he might want to perform a root planing.  In this process, he will go a little deeper into your gums to get them really clean.  Sometimes an anesthetic gel is applied beforehand, and your gums might be tender for a few days afterward.  Once you have this done, be certain to maintain a good oral care regimen! 

From Plaque to Periodontitis

If you do not take care of dental plaque, you will -as sure as death and taxes- develop gum disease.  Gingivitis is the most common type. 

Your gums will become swollen and reddened, although some people have difficulty noticing this.  There is no ignoring it, however, when they begin to bleed.  But gingivitis is reversible, and it is the least serious stage of gum disease.

Full-blown periodontal disease means that the dental plaque has extended below the gum line and deposited toxins into pockets between gum and teeth.  It can even affect the spaces between gum and the jawbone. 

Gum tissue and bone can be destroyed to the point where they no longer support the teeth.  The teeth become loose and must be pulled.  

That is why removing dental plaque by good brushing, flossing, rinsing, and dental visits are so important! 


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