What Every Human Needs to Know About Plaque

What Every Human Needs to Know About Plaque

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Dental Plaque Dog Urinating
©JohannViloria/Shutterstock.com

How would you feel if a dog ran over to you and urinated on your foot?  What if that urine were so caustic that a skin graft were required to repair the damage?  You would probably be devastated — and rightfully so.  However, many people permit a similar situation to occur in their mouths everyday!

DogDid you know that right now, there are thousands of tiny living organisms called bacteria living inside of your mouth?  They love sitting on your teeth.  You provide them food, shelter, and an ideal environment with 100% humidity.  Your mouth is their dream home.  However, these bacteria are not well-behaved house guests — they can end up leaving your mouth quite dirty and in poor repair.

Your Mouth is A Five-Star Restaurant for Bacteria

When you eat, you provide  nutrients for the bacteria in your mouth.  When you take a sip of juice, milk, or soda pop, you’re feeding them.  Anytime you put anything in your mouth, you’re feeding them just what they want.  As you feed them and provide shelter, they grow and reproduce, making lots of little plaque families that call your mouth home.  They even are smart enough to build a little “house” that protects them from the natural plaque-fighting defenses in your body.  Scientifically speaking, these “houses” they build are called their extracellular matrix.  There’s just one slight problem: Their “houses” don’t have built-in plumbing.

What Do They Do Without a Bathroom?

So what happens after these bacteria enjoy a delicious glass of juice or a nice slice of whole wheat toast?  They go to work digesting their food through a process called glycolysis.  After they’re done digesting their food, they have to get rid of it, and when they feel that urge to let loose, it comes out all over your teeth.  Their “waste product” consists of a dangerous acid, called lactic acid that goes right to work dissolving the enamel on your teeth.  If this process continues, then cavities (scientifically known as dental caries) will develop.  The decayed tooth structure must then be replaced with artificial tooth by a dentist.

How to Stop the Bacteria

There are at least three proven ways to win the fight against these unwanted intruders:

1 – Brush Your Teeth – Brushing your teeth provides the force necessary to remove bacteria from your teeth.  Once the bacteria and their exctracellular matrix are removed from the surface of your teeth, your saliva works on restoring the enamel that was damaged by the bacteria.  If you don’t brush, the saliva cannot get past the bacteria’s matrix and is unable to repair the enamel.

2 – Floss Your Teeth – A toothbrush can only get the tooth surfaces that are easy to access.  Dental floss is needed to remove bacteria from the areas where a typical brush cannot reach, like in between teeth and below the gums.

3 – Use a Fluoride Mouth Rinse – Fluoride helps you win the fight against oral bacteria in two ways.  First, fluoride strengthens tooth enamel, making it less resistant to the acid that is secreted by bacteria.  Many studies have also shown that when the bacteria are in the presence of fluoride, their acid-production is greatly reduced.

It is important to recognize that each of the above methods will not completely eliminate bacteria from your mouth, they will simply reduce the bacteria to a healthy level.  By not removing plaque, the bacteria will grow to unhealthy levels that can cause gingivitis and dental cavities.

Conclusion

I know the dog analogy sounds a bit gross.  Hopefully it makes you really think about what goes on inside your mouth.  Bacteria really are living there and trying to destroy your teeth.  If you have any questions, you can leave a comment below and I will respond to it, or just send me an email.

Thanks for reading.  Good luck winning the war inside your mouth!

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