Taming the Monster in Your Mouth: Plaque!

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The mouth is a fascinating work of anatomy. It is home to teeth and gums, tongue and throat bacteria! Lots and lots of bacteria. For the average adult, anywhere from 100 to 200 species of bacteria may live in your mouth. And even those who take good care of their teeth, will likely have 1,000 to 100,000 bacteria on every tooth surface! Many of these bacteria are harmless, but some are not. Streptococcus is one fo the bad guys. It is a bacteria which lives in your mouth, and every time you eat (or drink) it feeds on the sugars and starches left behind. Then it reacts with the sugars and starches to create acid. Eventually this acid turns into a sticky film—plaque—which coats the teeth and hardens into tartar if you don’t clear it away.

What happens next? First, bacterial acid breaks down your tooth enamel by stripping minerals from your enamel and creating holes. This exposes the softer, sensitive dentin layer beneath the enamel. Dentin is even more vulnerable to the effects of acid erosion. It wears down the tooth’s structure until it reaches the pulp, where the nerves and blood vessels live. The bacteria irritate the pulp until is swells, causing you severe toothache or sensitivity and pain when you chew. If your tooth becomes abscessed, you will have an infection–a pocket of pus where your body sends white blood cells to fight the infection.

Prevent Plaque Buildup By:

–Brushing and flossing twice a day.

–Rinsing with water every time you eat or drink something and using a microbial mouthwash after you brush and floss.

–Maintaining saliva production to protect your teeth and gums (stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water). This avoids dry mouth.

–Eating a balanced diet with healthy choices from the recommended food groups, and avoiding excess sugars and starches.

–See your dentist at least once a year for dental cleanings and checkups.

At Orlando Family Dentistry, Dr. John Orlando and Dr. Christopher Spelman are here to help you keep cavities away. Give us a call at 609-466-1332 if you have any questions or would like to schedule your next appointment!