We all know that we brush and floss our teeth to remove plaque, keep our gums healthy and prevent cavities, but do we really know what plaque is?
What is Dental Plaque?
Plaque is a microscopic form of bacteria that accumulates on our teeth, gums and even below the gum line consistently throughout the day. Plaque is naturally occurring, but the foods and drinks we consume throughout the day contribute to plaque formation and cause harmful plaque to build upon our teeth. In particular, when we eat and drink sugary foods and drinks, the sugars are converted into acids in our mouths and have a higher likelihood of causing cavities. Plaque that accumulates on our teeth and gums that is not brushed and flossed away consistently will start to calcify and turn into tartar, or calculus.
What is Tartar?
Tartar is plaque that has hardened onto our teeth overtime when it is not removed regularly. Our saliva has properties that calcify the plaque in just a matter of hours in some areas of the mouth. Therefore, it is important to brush at least twice a day and to floss at least once a day to prevent the build up of plaque and tartar on our teeth.
Brushing helps to remove the plaque from the front, back and biting surfaces of the teeth and flossing helps to remove the plaque from the in-between surfaces. Therefore, going without brushing and flossing for many hours leaves harmful bacteria left to grow on our teeth. It is vital to brush in the morning and before bed and even mid-day if you can manage it to prevent these issues. For flossing, once a day is ok, but the best practice is to brush and floss in the morning and before bed. If you have eaten something particularly sweet/ acidic and are not near your toothbrush or floss, try rinsing your mouth with water to reduce the acidic wear effects on your teeth.