Hearing words like sticky, bacteria, acid, and decay makes most people cringe. Thinking about those things on your teeth…ew! Unfortunately, these are all characteristics of plaque and tartar: the enemies of healthy teeth.
Don’t panic—we have some tips on how to avoid plaque and tartar. But first, let’s back up a little. In order to figure out how to prevent them, we need to know exactly what they are, right?
The best way to understand plaque is to think of it as a thin, invisible film of sticky bacteria (and other unfriendly materials) that coats the surfaces of your teeth. When sugars and starches come in contact with plaque, an acid is created that can attack your teeth for up to 20 minutes after you finish eating. Repeated attacks can break down tooth enamel and lead to cavities, decay, and/or gum disease.
Tartar, on the other hand, is a deposit that forms when plaque hardens on your teeth. For most of us, tartar deposits begin to build up faster as we age. Unlike plaque, tartar bonds quite strongly to tooth enamel and can only be removed by a dental professional. Prolonged tartar buildup can cause a tooth’s enamel to break down, resulting in decay and/or cavities.
So… in order to avoid cavities we have to avoid tartar, and in order to avoid tartar we have to avoid plaque. Here are some recommendations from Dr. Bob Maley on the best ways to fight plaque and tartar buildup.
• Floss once a day.
• Brush your teeth at least twice a day with toothpaste that contains fluoride and fights plaque.
• Use a quality toothbrush and remember to replace it every three months, or as soon as the bristles have worn down.
• Add a mouthwash to your routine to provide longer protection even after you’re done brushing.
• Eat well-balanced meals. Raw fruits and veggies like apples and carrots even help remove plaque.
• Brush after snacks.
• Visit Dr. Maley regularly for oral exams and cleanings so that any tartar buildup you might have can be removed.
Take care of your teeth and fight cavities! Your bank account and smile will thank you. And since avoiding plaque altogether is impossible, don’t forget to schedule your regular dental appointments with us so we can help brighten your smile and keep your teeth healthy for life!
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