Plaque & Tooth Decay

Plaque

Plaque 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.

Plaque also produces substances that irritate the gums, making them red, tender or bleed easily. After a while, gums may pull away from the teeth. Pockets form and fill with more bacteria and pus. If the gums are not treated, the bone around the teeth can be destroyed. The teeth may become loose or have to be removed. In fact, periodontal (gum) disease is a main cause of tooth loss in adults.

One way to prevent tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease is by eating a balanced diet and limit the number of snacks you consume throughout your day. Choosing nutritious foods such as raw vegetables, plain yogurt, cheese or fruit as a snack, you will help you maintain overall good health and prevention of tooth decay.

Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is the destruction of tooth structure and can affect both the enamel (the outer coating of the tooth) and the dentin layer of the tooth.

Tooth decay occurs when foods containing carbohydrates (sugars and starches) such as breads, cereals, milk, soda, fruits, cakes, or candy are left on the teeth. Bacteria that live in the mouth digest these foods, turning them into acids. The bacteria, acid, food debris, and saliva combine to form plaque, which clings to the teeth. The acids in plaque dissolve the enamel surface of the teeth, creating holes in the teeth called cavities, or caries.

Prevention

  • Brush your teeth twice a day with a flouride toothpaste
  • Floss teeth daily – preferably after meals and before bed
  • Eat nutritious balanced meals and snacks
  • Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and oral exam.