Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that sits on the tooth’s surface. Plaque reacts with the foods we consume (it consumes the sugars) and then releases acids that eat away tooth enamel, which causes tooth decay.

If plaque is not removed in a timely manner (with routine, effective brushing), it can harden to become calculus or tartar. Calculus and tartar are both names for hardened plaque, and are even more difficult to remove than plaque.

? What causes plaque?

Plaque naturally occurs in our mouths as a bacteria. It cannot be permanently erased. The problem with plaque– (when it’s not regularly removed from the teeth) it can lead to gingivitis, gum disease, periodontal disease, or other dental problems.

It is not possible to prevent plaque, but you can, however, minimize the damage it causes by:

  • Brushing and flossing at least 2-3 times per day.
  • Limiting your intake of sugary and sweet foods.
  • Brushing your teeth in a timely manner if you consume sweet, sugary foods or beverages.
  • Getting your teeth professionally cleaned once every six months at the dentist office.
  • Using anti-bacterial rinses to fight plaque after you brush your teeth.

? What can Washington Smiles do about plaque?

Our friendly hygienists and dentists can provide instructions on how to properly brush and floss your teeth. Brushing and flossing is the first and best defense against removing plaque, so we want to make sure you practice the proper techniques.

During your regular 6-month appointments, one of our dental hygienists will thoroughly clean your teeth and use instruments to remove tartar buildup. We can also speak with you about whether or not dental sealants on the molars may be right for you to provide extra protection against cavities.