Do you ever wonder about that sticky film left on your teeth after you eat? Or that fuzzy feeling you get when you forget to brush your teeth? That is dental plaque. Although plaque occurs naturally in everyone’s mouth, if left unchecked, this colorless film can lead to tartar build-up, cavities, gum disease, and tooth decay.

What causes plaque?


Plaque occurs through the combination of bacteria, food particles, and saliva. The food you eat is broken down into carbohydrates as you chew. Carbohydrates and natural bacteria in your mouth cause a chemical reaction that creates acid which eats away at the enamel on your teeth. While acid alone can cause damage to your teeth, it is the collection of acid, food particles, and saliva that ultimately form plaque.

Plaque can be pale yellow or colorless,  and it forms around the gum line and on the surface of and in between teeth. Bacteria in plaque can eat away at your enamel, causing cavities and tooth decay. It can also lead to bad breath and inflammation of the gums, or gingivitis.

What is dental tartar?

If plaque is ignored, it begins to harden on the surface of your teeth and eventually bonds to the tooth enamel, forming what is called dental tartar. While plaque can be removed through brushing and flossing, dental tartar is much harder to remove and requires the help of a dental professional. When tartar build-up occurs, dentists use what is called scaling to scrape the tartar off the surface of teeth. Tartar commonly builds up between teeth, at the gum line, and when braces or other orthodontia are present in the mouth.  

Tartar build-up, while difficult to remove, can also lead to problems with your teeth and gums. Tartar that collects above the gum line can cause gum disease. The bacteria found in gum disease have also been linked to other health problems such as heart disease.

How to prevent plaque and tartar


There are several things that impact plaque and tartar build-up on your teeth, including diet and dental hygiene. Because plaque is caused by a combination of carbohydrates (sugar) and bacteria, avoiding foods high in sugar can be the first step in combating plaque. Sodas, cakes, and sweets increase plaque build-up, so you can naturally reduce the plaque in your mouth by watching how much sugar you eat.

Carbohydrates and sugars occur naturally in many foods, however, including fruits and vegetables, so plaque build-up on your teeth will always occur to a degree. The best way to remove plaque and prevent tartar is by maintaining a steady dental hygiene routine.

The American Dental Hygienists Association outlines the best practices for brushing and flossing, an important part of your dental routine. By brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and using mouthwash, you can greatly improve your dental hygiene and stop plaque in its tracks. Practicing the ADHA brushing and flossing techniques, using an electric toothbrush, and using a tartar control toothpaste are all practical ways to keep your teeth and gums healthy and clean.

Despite these recommendations, 68% of adults have tartar. Visiting your dentist every six months for a professional cleaning is the best way to ensure plaque and tartar are kept at bay. Apart from watching your diet and managing your dental routine, dentists also recommend some professional cleaning techniques to keep your pearly whites both clean and healthy.

Balle & Associates in Las Vegas Care About Your Dental Health

At Balle and Associates, we offer guided biofilm therapy, a highly effective and painless cleaning process that not only removes harmful plaque and bacteria build-up, but can also remove teeth stains caused by things such as tea, coffee, or tobacco. Brushing and flossing regularly help prevent plaque and staining, but only a professional teeth cleaning can remove them once they’ve become established. Airflow uses biocompatible powder combined with air and water to safely wash away the plaque and stains on your teeth.

Practicing good dental hygiene, visiting your dentist for regular cleanings, and watching your sugar intake will help you manage plaque and prevent tartar build-up on your teeth. If you start to feel that sticky, fuzzy film develop on your teeth, be sure to follow these practices for brushing and flossing away that unwanted plaque.

For help with your dental health contact Balle and Associates dental practice in Las Vegas today at 702-825-7018.