September 15, 2023

What Is The Connection Between Plaque and Gum Disease, and How Can It Be Prevented?

When your oral health is compromised, it can lead to various issues that will eventually impact your overall health. One of the most common threats to oral health is the buildup of plaque, which can lead to gum disease. This article will discuss the relationship between plaque and gum disease and explore effective strategies for prevention, including teeth cleaning services for plaque removal.

Understanding Plaque

Plaque is a soft, sticky film of bacteria that forms on the surface of your teeth and gums throughout the day. These bacteria thrive on sugars and starches from the food you eat, producing acids that attack your tooth enamel and irritate your gums. 

A buildup of plaque can eventually harden into tartar, which is more challenging to remove and provides a breeding ground for even more bacteria. It often leads to gum inflammation, also known as gingivitis.

Gum Disease: The Link to Plaque

Gum disease is a progressive condition that can range from mild gingivitis to severe periodontitis. Plaque plays a central role in the development of gum disease because the bacteria in plaque release toxins that inflame and damage the gums. 

Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease. It is easy to tell if you have gingivitis because your gums will appear more red and swollen. Your gums will also start to bleed easily while you’re brushing and flossing, but the good news is that gingivitis is reversible.

Periodontitis is a more advanced stage of gum disease. This is when the infection progresses deeper into the supporting structures of the teeth and requires more aggressive treatment to decrease its effects.

Watch for these symptoms:

  • Persistent bad breath
  • Red, swollen, or bleeding gums
  • Gum recession (gums pulling away from teeth)
  • Pus between teeth and gums
  • Loose or shifting teeth
  • Changes in your bite
  • Pain when chewing

Prevention Strategies

Brush your teeth with a soft-bristle brush at least twice a day using fluoride toothpaste. Floss daily to remove plaque and food particles from between your teeth. Use an antimicrobial mouthwash as part of your oral care routine to reduce plaque and bacteria.

Limit sugary and starchy foods and eat a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin C, which supports gum health. High levels of stress can weaken your immune system and increase the risk of gum disease. Practice stress-reduction techniques like meditation or yoga to help protect your oral health.

Professional Dental Care

In addition to your daily routine, professional dental care, such as teeth cleaning services for plaque removal, is essential for preventing and treating gum disease. If you have early-stage gum disease, a dental procedure called scaling and root planing can remove plaque and tartar from below the gum line, promoting gum healing.

In advanced cases, surgical treatments like gum grafting or pocket reduction surgery may be necessary to restore gum health. Keep in mind that properly aligned teeth are easier to clean, reducing the risk of gum disease. Getting braces or clear aligners can help correct misalignment issues.

The Connection to Overall Health

The impact of gum disease extends beyond the mouth. Research suggests a link between gum disease and other health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and pregnancy complications. Maintaining healthy gums can significantly contribute to your overall well-being.

Children and Gum Disease Prevention

Infants (0-12 months):

Wipe your baby's gums with a clean, damp cloth after each feeding to remove milk residue.

Toddlers (1-3 years):

Begin using a soft-bristle infant toothbrush with a small amount of fluoride toothpaste (rice-sized) when the first tooth appears. Brush your child's teeth for them, using gentle, circular motions. 

Preschoolers (3-6 years):

Encourage your child to brush their teeth twice a day, morning and night, for two minutes. Teach them to brush all surfaces of their teeth, including the front, back, and chewing surfaces. Continue to supervise brushing until your child can tie their shoes, usually around age 6. 

School-Age Children (6-12 years):

Encourage your child to brush and floss independently, but continue to supervise and offer guidance. Switch to a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.

The connection between plaque and gum disease is well-established, but it can be prevented and managed. If you live in the Idaho Falls area, contact Taylorview Dental. We offer teeth cleaning services for plaque removal and look forward to helping you and your family members improve their oral health.