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Plaque is a sticky film that builds up on teeth and gum surfaces. Plaque forms when bacteria break down carbohydrates from food into acid.
The acid in plaque mixes with leftover food particles, damaging tooth enamel if not removed properly. Plaque causes cavities when it repeatedly damages enamel.
Some signs of plaque build-up include:
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Plaque can make teeth look dull and yellow. It also causes enamel damage, which can lead to tooth decay.
When plaque stays on teeth too long, it can harden into tartar. This is more difficult to remove and can only be done so by a trained dental professional.
Complications of plaque and tartar include:
Flossing before brushing your teeth is one of the best ways to remove plaque. It dislodges anything stuck between the teeth or in the gums. This makes brushing teeth more effective.
Some studies have looked into the effects of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) toothpaste.1 They discovered the toothpastes that contain baking soda helped remove significantly more plaque than those without baking soda.2
The study also found that toothpaste with baking soda could reduce plaque in the more hard-to-reach areas of the mouth.
Baking soda has other benefits, including:
Brushing your teeth using an electric toothbrush has been proven to be more effective than using a manual toothbrush.5 Always aim to brush your teeth for at least 2 minutes, twice daily.6
Many toothpastes contain fluoride. Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by making enamel more resistant to acids. It also helps rebuild enamel and slows decay.
Some studies suggest fluoride can stop tooth decay that has already started.7
This is where people swish or rinse their mouths with oil. You can use sesame oil, sunflower oil, or coconut oil.
A 2015 study noticed a significant decrease in the amount of plaque in participants’ mouths.8 However, there are also some potential downsides of oil pulling. These include jaw soreness and gastrointestinal upset from swallowing the oil that now contains bacteria.
Using an antimicrobial mouthwash kills bacteria that causes plaque. Because mouthwash can reach spaces between the teeth and gums that toothbrushes can’t, research shows a significant reduction in plaque with consistent mouthwash use.10
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Regular dental check ups that include cleaning and polishing can keep your teeth free of plaque and tartar. You should see your dentist every 6 months.11
You should also visit your dentist if:
Never try to remove tartar at home. Although several dental tools are available for purchase in stores, they are easy to misuse and might cause severe damage if not used properly.
Visiting the dentist for a teeth cleaning every six months is essential for good oral health.
Dentists clean areas of the mouth that you might miss at home. They can also remove plaque or tartar that has built up on your teeth and give advice on how to clean your teeth at home.12
Preventing plaque buildup is better than removing it once it forms. There are a number of things you can do to stop plaque forming:
Research shows that chewing gum with sorbitol or xylitol can help prevent plaque from building up.15 Avoid gum containing sugar, which will encourage bacteria to grow, causing more plaque.
This is especially important if you eat or drink a lot of sugary and starchy foods. These stick to the teeth and cause bacteria and plaque build up.
How to use the “Modified Bass Technique” to brush teeth:
Plaque naturally forms on teeth surfaces when bacteria reacts with food particles. If the plaque is not removed, it can cause tooth decay.
By adopting a good oral hygiene routine and visiting your dentist regularly, you can prevent plaque from causing serious issues.
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