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The Basics of Dental Care: What Is Plaque?

By Bruce Wilderman on May 07, 2016

A woman brushing her teethDr. Bruce Wilderman proudly serves patients in and around the Philadelphia area. He offers advanced general, cosmetic, and restorative dentistry treatments, all of which are designed to enhance overall dental wellness.

One of the keys to effective dental care is cleaning and managing plaque and tartar. Let's take a moment to consider these matters.

Oral Bacteria and the Creation of Dental Plaque

Oral bacteria is a natural phenomenon. This oral bacteria is responsible for bad breath as well as tooth decay and gum disease. The oral bacteria loves to feed on food particles between the teeth and on the teeth, so plaque is formed in order the for the oral bacteria to remain in place.

Plaque is sticky and clear, a mix of bacteria, food particles, carbohydrates, and saliva. Plaque can form on the tooth surface itself and even lodge itself below the gumline.

Why Plaque Is Bad for Dental Health

If the plaque is not cleaned away, it leads to tooth decay, which weakens the overall tooth structure and created new pockets and crevasses for food particles, bacteria, and plaque to get lodged. The cavity may get past the various layers of the tooth structure, accessing the inner pulp chamber. This can cause a root canal infection, which is quite painful and can result in an abscess.

Tartar: What Happens When Plaque Isn't Removed

Making matters worse, if the plaque is not cleaned away properly, it hardens into a substance known as tartar. The tartar latches onto the enamel layer of the teeth and leaves an ideal surface for plaque and oral bacteria to thrive.

Brushing and Flossing Properly Is Essential for Dental Health

In order to keep your teeth clean, it's imperative that you brush and floss regularly. You should brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once a night. Ideally you should consider brushing and flossing after every meal.

Root Planing and Scaling: Deep Cleaning Plaque and Tartar

If tartar has accumulated on your teeth, professional treatment is necessary to scrape it away. This process is known as root planing and scaling, which is also referred to as deep cleaning. Root scaling refers to the removal of the tartar from the tooth surface, while root planing refers to the smoothing down of tooth structure that has been left pocked or uneven by tartar and tooth decay.

Attend Regular Dental Checkups

The best way to avoid serious dental health issues is to visit your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings. This will prevent minor problems from becoming more serious issues down the road, and it allows you to receive the necessary professional help to avoid serious problems with dental wellness.

Schedule a Consultation with Dr. Bruce Wilderman

For more information about dental plaque, tartar, and other matters related to your general dental health and wellness, be sure to contact our cosmetic and restorative dentistry practice. Dr. Bruce Wilderman and his entire team look forward to your visit.

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