August 28, 2021

what are the causes of plaque on teeth

Plaque is a sticky film that develops on teeth when the bacterium in your mouth mixes with starchy or sugary foods. In the majority of situations, regular brushing and flossing will remove the plaque that forms on your teeth; however, if the plaque isn’t removed, it will harden and become tartar. Dental plaque is made up of several types of bacteria, which can cause cavities and/or lead to gum disease as well as tooth loss. To reduce the risk of gum disease and to help maintain a healthy mouth, it is essential that you understand what causes plaque on teeth and how to remove plaque on teeth.

What Causes Plaque on Teeth?

Plaque on teeth develops when you consume foods that contain sugars and starches (carbohydrates), such as candy or soda. The carbohydrates in certain foods and beverages feed bacteria that live in your mouth, in turn producing acids that eat away at tooth enamel and ultimately causing tooth decay. Dental plaque may also develop under the gums on the tooth roots, which may cause the bone supporting your teeth to break down. When plaque goes untreated, it often hardens into tartar that is extremely difficult to remove. Some of the most common causes of plaque on teeth include:

  • Not brushing and flossing after eating can cause plaque to build up, ultimately causing tooth erosion
  • Tooth decay frequently happens to teeth in the back of the mouth, because they have more grooves than front teeth. Although your back teeth are excellent for chewing food, they are also prone to collecting food particles. Back teeth are also more difficult to clean than front teeth, which makes them more prone to plaque buildup.
  • Dry mouth is caused by a lack of saliva, which plays an essential role in the prevention of tooth decay. Saliva helps to wash away food and the minerals found in saliva help to remove plaque and protect your teeth.

How to Remove Tartar with a Dental Pick

One of the most common questions people ask is how to remove tartar with a dental pick. It is important to understand that tartar can only be removed by dental professionals by way of professional cleaning. However, you can help remove plaque and food particles from your teeth with a dental pick; a Waterpik generally can’t remove tartar that is adhered to teeth or tartar that is below your gum line. Tartar forms on your teeth after plaque hardens, so it is much more difficult to remove than plaque. Toothpaste that contains tartar control can help destroy the plaque, but it typically will not remove tartar. If you choose to use a tartar remover at home, it is important to keep in mind that doing it incorrectly can injure gum tissue and/or scratch the tooth enamel. To properly do this at home:

  • Thoroughly brush your teeth and rinse well with water
  • Floss by guiding the floss smoothly and down to the root at the gum line and then back up to the top of the teeth. Be sure to use a new section of the floss for each tooth area.
  • To use a dental scaler, lay the scaler flat against the surface of your teeth and starting at the gum line, pull away to the top of your teeth, making sure you cover all surfaces of the teeth.
  • Use the dental pick to thoroughly clean the area between your teeth and to ensure all hardened food particles are removed. Place the dental pick near the gum line between teeth and pull upward toward the top of the teeth.

Everyone has dental plaque; if you run your tongue across your teeth, and they feel fuzzy, that is plaque. The easiest way to prevent plaque buildup is to brush teeth at least twice a day. It’s best to use a soft; round tip bristled toothbrush and pay close attention to the area where your teeth and gums meet. Dentists also recommend eating a well-balanced diet and are mindful of between-meal snacks. When you do eat snacks, it’s best to eat nutritious foods, such as fresh vegetables, yogurt, and cheese. Along with brushing and eating healthy, good oral health care includes flossing daily, using mouthwash, and chewing sugarless gum, but the most important thing you can do to ensure you maintain healthy teeth and gums is to visit your dentist for routine cleanings and examinations.

To learn more information about what causes plaque on teeth or to schedule an examination, contact Taylorview Dental.