While dental plaque might sound like a commemorative tablet you’d hang on a wall to celebrate amazing dental health, it’s actually quite the opposite. Everyone has dental plaque, it’s a normal part of our oral ecosystem. But it’s an unfortunate side effect of our bacteria-thriving dental environment, rather than a positive achievement to commemorate. Keep reading to learn what dental plaque is and how to remove it from your teeth.
What is dental plaque
Dental plaque is a sticky, colourless film on your teeth, where bacteria loves to grow. It’s most notable when you wake up in the morning and run your tongue along your teeth, feeling a slimy sensation. Not to mention the morning breath that comes with it. Yep, it’s gross!
Plaque is caused by bacterial buildup and can be exacerbated by eating foods high in sugar or carbohydrates. This often leads to an increase in specific types of bacteria, like streptococcus mutans. When there is an overgrowth of this bacteria in the mouth, the normal harmonious balance is tipped and can lead to dental decay and gum disease (which we want to avoid).
Our mouths are the ideal environment for dental plaque to grow, as it’s warm, moist and has lots of great spots for bacteria to hide (like in your teeth). Even our saliva produces the primary nutrients and PH levels for the bacteria to thrive and feed off.
Tips to remove dental plaque from teeth
When left to build up, dental plaque turns into calculus (or tartar) in as little as 24 hours! You’ll want to avoid this as calculus is a lot tougher than plaque, making it difficult to remove at home. Plus, it can make your teeth more susceptible to stains and discolouration. So how do you remove dental plaque before it becomes a bigger and tougher problem? A combination of prevention and treatment methods is recommended.
- Practice good oral hygiene habits
It may sound obvious, but good oral hygiene is one of the best ways to prevent and remove dental plaque. This includes brushing with toothpaste twice a day, and flossing at least once a day with dental floss. The brush, toothpaste and floss should remove any new dental plaque, preventing calculus buildup. It’s also important to brush your teeth before bed, as leaving bacteria from food in your mouth overnight may exacerbate the dental plaque.
- Chomp on healthy food
As foods and drinks full of sugar and carbohydrates can worsen your dental plaque situation by fuelling an imbalance of oral bacteria, it’s recommended to cut back on these types of consumables. Instead, opt for nutritious foods and drinks, that are low in sugar and/or carbs. A few examples are dairy (like greek yoghurt, cheese and milk), lean meats (like fish, chicken and turkey), non-starchy vegetables (like broccoli, asparagus, spinach, kale) and low-sugar fruit (like berries). We also suggest speaking with a nutritionist or GP if you have any concerns about your diet and the impact it may have on your overall health.
- Keep your chewing gum sugar-free
Sorry, this means no Hubba Bubba! Sugar-free chewing gum is useful for cleaning your teeth and gums are eating, when toothbrushes aren’t readily available. It can also help to curb those sugary dessert cravings after lunch and dinner. Look for the sugar-free label on the chewing gum packaging next time you go grocery shopping.
- Rinse with mouthwash
An over-the-counter or prescribed mouthwash is a great way to wipe out some of the bacteria in your mouth, which helps to prevent dental plaque. It can also be a consolation to brushing your teeth when you don’t have access to a toothbrush.
- Get professional dental treatment
Aside from your regular dental checkups, you may need additional professional help to remove dental plaque or calculus from your help. In a dental examination, your dentist may scrape stubborn plaque and calculus off your teeth. If necessary, they may recommend dental sealants, dry mouth medications, fluoride treatments, prescription toothpaste and/or mouthwash. All of these treatments should help to prevent plaque and tooth decay.
When visiting the dentist, you may want to ask these questions:
- How can I remove dental plaque?
- What’s the best way to prevent and remove dental plaque?
- When do I need to visit the dentist again?
- How can I reduce the risk of gum disease and tooth decay?
- When should I be worried about dental plaque?
- What toothbrush is best for removing dental plaque?
So with these dental tips, you should be well on your way to restoring the balance of bacteria in your mouth and reducing dental plaque buildup. The dentists at Claremont Dental take care to educate their patients on oral health and how to practice good oral hygiene. If you’re in need of a general checkup or plaque and calculus removal, Claremont Dental are available for appointments. Book your dental appointment online today.