Every person needs to know how to get rid of plaque buildup on their teeth. Dental plaque is the known cause of tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath. However, recent research indicates that fighting plaque helps improve more than our oral health.
Studies have found possible links between gum disease and several serious medical conditions. These include heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and other illnesses that make dental plaque a threat to overall health and well-being. Since dental plaque begins forming soon after brushing, it is essential to learn how and when to clean your teeth to prevent plaque buildup on teeth before it becomes a problem.
RELATED: HOW TO BRUSH YOUR TEETH PROPERLY
What Does Teeth Plaque Look Like?
Dental plaque is a soft and sticky film composed of bacteria that constantly forms on all teeth and below the gumline. These bacteria feed off sugars and starches from food particles left behind after eating. This process results in acids forming on teeth that can destroy tooth enamel and cause gum inflammation if not thoroughly cleaned from your teeth.
If the soft plaque remains on teeth, it can harden within 24 to 72 hours. Once it sets, it becomes tartar or dental calculus, which you cannot remove at home. Tartar builds up faster in some people than others and requires professional teeth cleaning for removal.
Plaque is typically clear or invisible but can also appear yellowish or orange in color. Tartar is visible above the gum line and can look white, yellowish, orange, or darker. Tobacco products and dark beverages can cause black tartar that leads to esthetic and oral health problems.
The signs of plaque buildup on teeth include:
- Gums bleed after brushing.
- Gums bleed after flossing.
- Persistent bad breath.
- Teeth feel fuzzy instead of smooth.
- Tender gums.
- Bright red gums instead of pink.
When plaque remains on teeth, it causes complications such as:
- Tooth cavities.
- Inflamed gums.
- Gum infection.
- Abscessed tooth.
- Tooth loss.
- Possibly linked to several medical conditions.
4 Tips on How To Remove Plaque Buildup on Teeth
Plaque buildup on teeth can cause tooth decay, which is mostly preventable but remains a public health problem. The advances of modern dentistry have resulted in a decline in tooth decay. However, it remains the most common disease in the United States. Dental cavities affect four times more 14 to 17-year-old teenagers than asthma, and 9 out of 10 people over 20 years have tooth decay.
Plaque also causes gingivitis, or gum disease, in almost one-half of adults over 30 years and more than 70% of adults over 65. You can prevent tooth decay and gingivitis with oral hygiene that prevents the accumulation of plaque. If you have neglected oral hygiene, you may need to see a dentist for plaque buildup removal as soon as possible for several reasons:
- You might have cavities forming beneath the plaque.
- Some areas of your mouth likely have dental tartar that you cannot remove at home.
- Your dentist can prevent early gum disease from progressing to more severe periodontitis.
- You can learn the proper oral hygiene methods to use at home to avoid the recurrence of plaque buildup.
There is no substitute for regular dental checkups, but here are four tips to help you maintain healthy teeth and gums.
RELATED: FOOD THAT IS BAD FOR YOUR TEETH
1. Brush Your Teeth the Right Way
Proper tooth brushing to prevent tooth plaque buildup is foundational to keeping a healthy mouth and a bright smile. Your tooth brushing routine should include:
- Brushing at least twice each day.
- Brushing after meals when possible.
- Using a soft-bristled toothbrush.
- Replacing your toothbrush regularly.
- Constantly replacing a worn or damaged toothbrush.
- Using an ADA-approved toothpaste.
You can cause damage to your teeth and gums by not brushing with the proper technique. The recommended method is to:
- Position the brush at a 45-degree angle to where the tooth and gums meet.
- Use a gentle motion to brush.
- Move the brush in a circular and not a back-and-forth pattern for the front and back surfaces.
- Brush the tops or chewing surfaces of back teeth.
- Brush your tongue.
2. The Right Products Can Remove Plaque Buildup on Teeth
You can remove teeth plaque buildup most effectively when using the best oral hygiene products.
According to the U.S. Census and a consumer survey, 270 million Americans use manual toothbrushes. When making your choice of one of these, keep these tips in mind:
- Avoid stiff or medium bristles and choose soft or extra soft.
- Make sure the bristles have rounded tips.
- Do not share toothbrushes with another person.
- Replace your toothbrush every three months or sooner.
- Choose a toothbrush with the American Dental Association (ADA) seal, such as Oral B and Reach.
The growing number of claims made by manufacturers complicates choosing a toothpaste. Popular kinds of toothpaste include those promising to whiten or decrease the sensitivity of your teeth. You may receive some minor benefits from these more specialized kinds of toothpaste but the most important things to look for include:
- Choose an ADA-approved toothpaste such as Aquafresh, Colgate, Crest.
- Use a toothpaste that contains fluoride.
- Most importantly, use a toothpaste you enjoy!
Mouthwashes do not replace brushing and flossing but can help fight plaque in hard-to-reach areas of your mouth. To help control plaque, choose a mouthwash that contains active ingredients that kill bacteria associated with gum disease, dental cavities, plaque, and bad breath.
Some of the mouth rinses recommend by the American Dental Association to help control plaque include:
- Listerine Antiseptic Ultraclean
- Listerine Gum Therapy
- Publix Antiseptic Mouth Rinse
- CVS Antiseptic Mouth Rinse
Manual toothbrushes can adequately remove dental plaque. However, electric toothbrushes can help clean the areas harder to reach and make it easier to brush your teeth longer. The price of an electric toothbrush varies widely according to features such as Bluetooth compatibility, a two-minute timer, number of cleaning modes, and superior whitening ability.
When choosing an electric toothbrush, some things to keep in mind include:
- Make sure to use a soft-bristled brush.
- Change brush heads according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Use a brush head size that is appropriate to your mouth size.
- Select an ADA-approved model such as Oral B or Philips Sonicare.
3. Floss Daily To Remove Plaque Build-Up on Teeth
Flossing each day is critical to teeth and gum health because you cannot remove plaque buildup on teeth and below the gumline with tooth brushing alone. Using an improper flossing technique can damage your gums. Follow these steps to ensure proper flossing and plaque removal:
- Use approximately 18 inches of ADA-approved dental floss.
- Wind the floss around the middle fingers of both hands.
- Use your thumbs and index fingers to grasp firmly and hold the floss.
- Gently guide the floss between each pair of teeth by using a gentle back and forth motion.
- Floss the opposing sides of each pair of teeth by moving the floss down to the gumline.
- Curve the floss around the tooth slightly and slide it into the space between the tooth and the gum.
- Rub the side of the tooth thoroughly but gently.
- Repeat on the opposing tooth.
- Floss the backside of your rearmost tooth.
- Discard the floss.
4. Visit Your Dentist
No matter how well you brush and floss your teeth, you probably miss certain areas of your mouth. A professional teeth cleaning can clean plaque from these areas to help prevent tooth decay and gum disease. During a cleaning, your dental professional:
- Examines all your teeth for cavities.
- Inspects your gums for inflammation or infection.
- Performs an oral cancer screening.
- Takes dental x-rays for a comprehensive oral examination.
- Uses specialized instruments to remove plaque and tartar.
- Polishes your teeth.
- Performs professional flossing.