Know your Enemies: Dental Plaque

CoupleBrushingRun your tongue over your teeth as  you read this. You may feel some lumps and bumps which are likely tartar buildup. Tartar is a hardened version of dental plaque. These biofilms cling to your teeth and gums. Identifying this unpleasant feeling is one thing. Taking action is another. Few people truly understand the formation and reason for plaque, or why the substance is as sticky as it is. Since plaque weakens tooth enamel and opens the door for tooth decay and gum disease, Sheridan dentist, Dr. Coon, would like to teach you more.

Dental Plaque Explained

One of the most important aspects to understanding dental plaque is knowing how it forms. Your mouth is host to over 600 different kinds of oral bacteria. Most of these germs are harmless, and some are even essential to the eco-system in your mouth. However, some bacteria are extremely detrimental to your oral health. These various germs gather together, multiplying and breeding and gaining strength from what you feed them. The accumulation of these germs leads to their fast consumption of sucrose (sugar) which is not only in the sweets you eat, but in breads, pastas, and fruits. Bacteria create acid as a by-product of a sugar binge, this mixes with more debris and the germs themselves, and the next thing you know, you have plaque.

A Sticky Subject

The key to plaque’s sticky texture lies in a specific bacteria – Treponema denticola. These germs are key contributors to dental plaque. The germs produce protein which parallels the make-up of proteins which your immune system produces to combat bacterial invaders. In the case of dental plaque, the sticky substance produced by T. denticola allows bacteria to stay together and adhere to the surfaces of your mouth. The biofilm of plaque also protects oral bacteria from your body’s efforts to fight them off. Since plaque constantly and consistently forms in your oral cavity, maintaining proper dental hygiene is essential to controlling your mouth’s bacterial population. Brushing and flossing your teeth at least twice a day, in conjunction with attending your six-month dental checkups and cleanings, will limit the formation of bacterial plaque and inhibit its destructive power.

Visit your Sheridan Dentist

To learn about protecting your oral health, schedule a consultation at Grinnell Street Dental by contacting our Sheridan dentist office at (307) 672-7567. We welcome patients from Sheridan, WY and the surrounding communities.