Your teeth serve an important role in many ways. From munching on food to helping you speak correctly, teeth are just downright necessary. Keeping your mouth healthy is one way to ensure that your teeth will be around to do their job. While there are many ways to do this, preventing plaque build up is one of the key ways to keep your teeth in good shape.

What is Plaque?

Plaque is a sticky, colorless bacteria that forms on your teeth after you eat. You can feel this – it’s the slimy or fuzzy feeling on your teeth that is most noticeable when you haven’t brushed yet. In this stage, you have the power to remove it on your own and help prevent it from getting to the next stage: tartar.

Once plaque turns into tartar, you’ll need a dentist’s help to remove it. That’s because tartar is plaque that has been on your teeth too long and has hardened into place. It can lead to receding gums and gum disease.

Why is Plaque Bad?

Plaque can also do some damage when it’s still only plaque. It coats your teeth, gets under your gum line, and sticks to your dental work, like fillings. The bacteria in plaque can damage your tooth enamel and cause cavities. It can also cause bad breath, which no one likes to have. That’s why it’s so important to learn how to prevent plaque build up.

How to Prevent Plaque Build Up

Plaque build up can be prevented to help you avoid troubles with your mouth or a visit to the dentist. Of course, you’ll still need to go to your dentist for your regular cleanings, as this is one of the best ways to ensure you’re getting all the plaque off your teeth. Keep in mind that once plaque gets on your teeth, you don’t have long to remove it before it begins to harden into tartar.

Here are the top ways to make sure you remove plaque on your own.

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a soft-bristled or electric toothbrush
  • Use a tartar-control toothpaste with fluoride or try brushing with baking soda
  • Floss at least once a day to help remove food between teeth
  • Use an antiseptic mouthwash to help kill bacteria
  • Chew sugar-free gum or drink water between brushings
  • Use a straw for drinking, especially sugary drinks

The Role Your Diet Plays

Not surprisingly, your diet plays a significant role in the number of bacteria that thrive in your mouth. That’s because bacteria thrive on sugar and starch. When bacteria hook up with these types of foods, they release harmful acids that harm your teeth. So you’re not only feeding yourself when you eat but the plaque-causing bacteria as well.

Here are some of the worst foods for your teeth:

  • Bread
  • Sour candy
  • Alcohol
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Citrus
  • Potato chips
  • Dried fruit

Interesting Plaque Stats

Plaque build up can cause cavities, which are the most common chronic disease faced by people aged 6-19 years old, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You’re not alone in the fight against plaque, though, as more than 80% of American adults end up dealing with some form of periodontal disease due to plaque. Another interesting plaque stat? When looking at how to prevent plaque build up, some not-so-obvious methods have proven to be helpful, like olive oil, green tea, and cranberry juice.

Talk to a Dentist About How to Prevent Plaque Build Up

Most importantly, if you have any questions about keeping your teeth and mouth healthy, be sure to talk to a dentist. Contact Zeal Dentistry at 415.792.4771 to learn how we can help you take care of your teeth and keep your smile going.