Ever since we were small children the phrase, “Brush your teeth!” has been drilled into us. We all know that it is important to brush our teeth after eating and before going to bed but the question that is often not exactly clear is “Why?” The answer is dental plaque. According to our Bellevue dentist at Bellevue Family Practice Dentistry dental plaque is a sticky substance, a colorless film of bacteria that constantly forms on our teeth and along the gum line. Plaque contains bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease. If allowed to stay in place plaque turns into tartar, which is calcified or hardened plaque that attaches to the enamel on your teeth and below the gum line.
Once plaque hardens into tartar it is very hard to remove by brushing alone and needs a cleaning from our Bellevue dentist to remove it. Since plaque and tartar are formed from bacteria left by food these deposits become breeding grounds for bacterial colonies. Bacteria from the plaque colonies forms acids, which can begin to decay the teeth forming cavities, get into roots causing infections, pain or infect the gum causing periodontal disease. All these conditions can result in tooth loss, infections in other parts of the body and even bone loss in the jaw.
While our Bellevue dentist can restore teeth that have been infected by cavities and perform endodontic treatments on infected teeth roots as well as various periodontal treatments or surgeries on those patients with gum disease prevention is a much more effective route to take when it comes to plaque accumulation. The goal is to remove any plaque from the teeth and gums as soon as it is deposited. Here is where the old admonition to brush your teeth comes in – brushing is the most effective way to remove food debris and bacteria before plaque takes hold. Flossing and using dental rinses are also very important parts of daily tooth maintenance. Our doctor recommends regular checkups to monitor the condition of the teeth as well as twice-yearly cleanings to remove accumulated plaque and tartar. Please fight plaque by calling our office for an appointment.