Research has shown that
controlling plaque is important in the control of decay and gum disease.
Plaque is neither food or food residue. Plaque is a clear, sticky deposit
of of bacteria that adheres to the surface of teeth and gum tissue. It
is so adherent that it can only be removed by mechanical cleansing. Plaque
contains a variety of different types of bacteria. For this reason, certain
types of plaque are associated with dental decay, others with calculus
formation, and others with the inflammatory response of the gums (gingivitis).
Plaque begins forming
on the teeth in as little as 4 hours after brushing. This is why it is
so important to brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss daily.
The rate at which plaque forms and the location in which it develops can
vary between individuals and even between different teeth in the same mouth.
One of the prime areas in which plaque accumulates is at the gingival margin
and sulcus where the tooth meets the gum.
Plaque which is not removed
regularly by brushing and flossing can harden into calculus (also called
tartar). Calculus is plaque that has mineralized, forming a tough, crusty
deposit that can only be removed by your dentist or hygienist. These deposits
can form above (supragingival) and below (subgingival) the gum line. Calculus
deposits are a significant contributing factor in periodontal disease because
it is always covered by a layer of nonmineralized plaque. The calculus
keeps the plaque close to the gingival tissue and makes it much more difficult
to remove the plaque bacteria. Thorough removal of these deposits is necessary
to prevent the progression of periodontal disease.
Some people form
heavy calculus deposits rapidly while others form little or no mineralized
deposits. This is due to differences in the saliva, the types of plaque
bacteria, and dietary factors. One can help reduce the formation of calculus
by brushing with and ADA-accepted tartar control
by having regular professional cleanings every 6 months or more frequently
as recommended by your dentist or hygienist.
The prevention of
gum disease and decay requires a life-long commitment to fighting plaque
and calculus information. More information
about plaque and tartar control.
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A. Greene, DDS-FAGD
Birdcreek Terrace Temple, TX 76502 254.773.9007 | Fax 254.773.8051
A. Greene, DDS-FAGD | Online since 1996 | Updated Continuously