It goes without saying that good habits are the key for healthy teeth without plaque. Richard Price, DMD, spokesman for the American Dental Association, says that having teeth without plaque is easy. One needs to be consistent with healthy habits to have the best results.
Plaque is a film of bacteria and the adhesive chemical, the mucopolysaccharides, which they secrete over a period of time. Initially the slimy film and the bacteria are easy to remove by brushing. After some time, the bacteria starts producing acid that eats away the enamel causing holes in the teeth, called cavities. Plaque can also accumulate over a period of time and form tartar or calculus on the teeth. Tartar is very hard to remove by normal brushing and requires a dentist's help to get it removed, says Price.
There are five habits that should be avoided to prevent the formation of plaque:
Not brushing regularly
According to Price, plaque can become a problem if an individual let's it build up. Teeth should be brushed gently twice a day using fluoride-containing toothpaste. The most important point to be noted while brushing is that all the surfaces of the teeth are covered while brushing.
Not flossing regularly
Brushing may not be enough to clean all the spaces between the teeth. Plaques often find access to these places and build up there. Daily flossing helps to remove the plaque formation in these regions before it causes any damage to the teeth. Flossing also helps to remove the plaque formation in the gum line, which is generally not cleaned by brushing alone. Plaque formation beyond the gum line can result in periodontal disease.
One can also opt for ADA-approved products to clean the in-between regions to avoid the growth of plaque. Discuss with a dentist before using any particular product.
Not visiting the dentist regularly
It is possible to miss out some of the plaque even when you are brushing and flossing regularly. These plaques may form tartar over a period of time and has to be removed by a dentist. But many people avoid going to the dentist for more than a year. “People who do not visit the dentist regularly have greater chances of tartar and cavity formation in the teeth”, says Price. Cleaning the teeth twice a year by a professional is the most recommended method to prevent the formation of calculus and tartar.
Avoiding healthy food
Certain foods are also known to keep plaques at bay. Eating crunchy vegetables and fruits with skin helps to scrape off the plaques from the teeth surface. Carrots, apples, cucumbers,i ju and many raw fruits and vegetables contain substances to keep the teeth healthy even though they contain sugar.
Having a sweet tooth
Eating more of sweet food allows the bacteria to thrive on the sugar that stick to the tooth. The bacteria then create a film of plaque and convert the sugar into acid that eats away the enamel causing cavities. “Sugary candies and junk food in general lead to the formation of plaque, especially high-sugar foods that are soft and sticky”, says Price.
Avoiding these five habits will help to prevent the formation of plaque on teeth. Some other steps that can be taken to avoid plaques, tartar, and calculus include:
- Sealants – Dental sealants help to cover the surfaces of the teeth inhibiting the growth of bacteria and block the acid from entering the teeth. This prevents the plaque formation and tooth decay.
- Mouth rinse – ADA approved mouth rinses also help to prevent plaque formation and tooth decay. You need to remember that mouth rinses cannot be a substitute for brushing or flossing of teeth.
- Plaque can generate if an individual does not brush, floss, or visit a dentist regularly.
- Plaque can also occur by eating unhealthy, sugar coated food.