July 2018 Dental Newsletter
The Dangers of Plaque and Tartar Accumulation
Preventive measures in dental treatment are intended to defend against the onset of disease. Patients of all ages benefit from preventive dental services that are designed to fend off periodontal disease, tooth sensitivity, cavities, and even oral infections. Routine exams and professional cleanings before bacteria buildup will ensure a lifetime of excellent dental health. Though plaque and tartar are two different things, they have similar properties and tartar forms as a result of plaque buildup. Both are harmful to the teeth and gums and can be prevented through a good oral care routine and regular visit to the dentist.
Risks Associated with Tooth Plaque
Plaque is a sticky, colorless, film of bacteria that is constantly forming on the tooth’s surface. Though there are good and bad bacteria in the mouth, plaque produces acids that attack tooth enamel, damage gums, and create cavities. Excessive plaque buildup may also lead to periodontal disease which has been known to compromise the immune system. When plaque isn’t removed through regular brushing and flossing, it will mineralize into tartar.
Importance of Tartar Control
Tartar is a calcified plaque that only a dental professional is able to remove during a routine cleaning. If you don’t adequately brush and floss plaque away from the teeth, tartar will accumulate above the gum line and threaten the health of your teeth and bone structure surrounding the gums. Unlike plaque, which is a colorless film of bacteria, tartar is a mineral buildup that is yellow or brown in color. Tartar can also form underneath the gum line and irritate gum tissues, leading to gingivitis and potentially a more aggressive form of periodontal disease.
Once tartar has formed, only a dentist or a hygienist is able to remove it during a process called scaling. During a scaling, the dental professional will uses special instruments to remove the tartar above and below the gum line.
Preventive Oral Care Habits
Plaque and tartar buildup can lead to gingivitis and periodontitis and is best prevented through a rigorous oral care routine that involves brushing for at least two minutes, twice a day, flossing at least once a day, as well as through these additional steps.
- Regular dental visits – The American Dental Association recommends a dental cleaning every six months. During this appointment, your dentist or hygienist will pay special attention to plaque and tartar on the teeth, remove it accordingly, and assess the state of your teeth and gums through X-rays, and oral examination.
- Fluoride treatments – Fluoride is nature’s cavity-fighter naturally found in soil, water, and foods. Fluoride treatments, as well as using fluoride-toothpaste, will prevent cavities in children and adults.
- Eat healthily – Eating a variety of nutrient-rich foods from each of the five food groups will reduce plaque and promote optimal oral health. These may consist of fruits, vegetables, protein foods, calcium-rich foods, and whole grains.