Dental Plaque

Definition:Dental plaque is biofilm (usually colorless) that builds up on the teeth. If not removed regularly, it can lead to dental cavities (caries) or periodontal problems (such as gingivitis).

It is the sticky, colorless film of bacteria that forms on teeth. It makes teeth “feel fuzzy” to the tongue and is most noticeable when teeth are not brushed.

The microorganisms that form the biofilm are almost entirely bacteria (mainly streptococcus mutans and anaerobes), with the composition varying by location in the mouth. Examples of such anaerobes include fusobacterium and Actinobacteria.

The microorganisms present in dental plaque are all naturally present in the oral cavity, and are normally harmless. However, failure to remove plaque by regular toothbrushing means that they are allowed to build up in a thick layer. Those microorganisms nearest the tooth surface convert to anaerobic respiration; it is in this state that they start to produce acids which consequently lead to demineralization of the adjacent tooth surface, and dental caries. Saliva is also unable to penetrate the build-up of plaque and thus cannot act to neutralize the acid produced by the bacteria and remineralize the tooth surface.

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Dental plaque is a thin film containing bacteria, which is constantly forming on the surfaces of teeth. It is a soft, whitish substance. It is not easily detected until the coating on the teeth becomes quite thick. It accumulates in the areas which are not naturally cleansed by the action of the tongue or the lips and also those areas which are relatively inaccessible to brushing. If dental plaque persists, mineral substances in saliva, principally, calcium salts, combine with the dental plaque to form a hard deposit, termed calculus (tartar), which can only professionally be removed.

Plaque build up can also become mineralized and form calculus (tartar).


Causes:

Plaque develops when foods containing carbohydrates (sugars and starches) such as milk, soft drinks, raisins, cakes, or candy are frequently left on the teeth. Bacteria that live in the mouth thrive on these foods, producing acids as a result. Over a period of time, these acids destroy tooth enamel, resulting in tooth decay. Plaque can also develop on the tooth roots under the gum and cause breakdown of the bone supporting the tooth
Prevention and treatment:

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Frequency of brushing and flossing with good technique is important, because the nature (i.e. composition) of the microorganisms change as the plaque ages. Therefore, plaque which is 12 hours old for example is much less damaging than plaque which has not been removed in days.

Oral hygiene practices have evolved largely during the time they have been most needed, i.e. the 20th and 21st centuries. The sudden increase in tooth decay is almost certainly attributable to changes in diet, such as the introduction of refined sugar and, later, candy.

Mouthwash (also mouth rinse) is used for oral hygiene. Antiseptic and anti-plaque mouth rinse claims to kill the bacteria that cause plaque, gingivitis, and halitosis. Anti-cavity mouthwash contains fluoride, protecting against tooth decay.

Few Tips:

* Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a soft, rounded-tip bristled toothbrush. Pay particular attention to the space where the gums and teeth meet. Use a fluoride-containing toothpaste.
* Floss between teeth at least once a day to remove food particles and bacteria.
* See your dentist or oral hygienist every 6 months for a check-up and teeth cleaning.
* Ask your dentist if a dental sealant is appropriate for you. Dental sealants are a thin, plastic coating that are painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth to protect them from cavities and decay.
* Eat a balanced diet and limit the number of between-meal snacks. If you need a snack, choose nutritious foods such as plain yogurt, cheese, fruit, or raw vegetables. Vegetables, such as celery, help remove food and help saliva neutralize plaque-causing acids.

*Massage your gum with a finger daily and then wash your mouth.

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You may click to see also:What is Dental Plaque?

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.

Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dental_plaque
http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/plaque-and-your-teeth

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