What’s in Plaque & Why Should You Care?
Plaque is residual food molecules bacteria that causes tooth and gum decay if they aren’t cleaned up through brushing and flossing. It targets the tooth enamel, resulting in a cavity on the tooth’s surface.
Eventually, as plaque grow it becomes tartar, which results in Gingivitis, a red swelling and likely bleeding of the gums. Tartar can result in stains on the teeth, discoloration, and bad breath. It can develop as soon as 24 hours, making it much more difficult to remove newly formed plaque. Fortunately, Gingivitis can be reversed with adequate care and professional treatment.
But specifically, with braces there are a few problems to look out for in addition to Gingivitis.
- This occurs when food left on teeth, often precipitated by braces, comes in contact with bacteria creating acid. This destroys the calcium and phosphate of the teeth, resulting in decalcification and permanent white scars.
- Periodontitis is significantly more severe, results in a bacterial infection that causes your gums and the bone supporting your teeth to break down, pulling back from the teeth, and likely tooth loss.
Best ways to combat plaque
- Brush teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste to remove plaque from surfaces
- Clean between teeth daily, especially between bedtime, with floss or an interdental cleaner
- Eating a balanced diet with limited between-meal snacks, which ads more sugar for the bacteria to create demineralization.
Randy Gittess graduated from Medical College of Virginia in Richmond to become a Doctor of Dental Sergury and later discovered his passion for orthodontics and went on to specialize in Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia where he received his certificate in orthodontics. Dr. Gittess is also Certified as a Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics, a special distinction among orthodontists.