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Ways to Reduce Plaque Buildup on Teeth

Updated on October 24, 2012

Plaque is the colorless, sticky biofilm that covers your teeth. It is made up of bacterial microorganisms such as streptococcus, and forms continuously in between, and on the surface, of your teeth. Plaque develops in three ways: Supragingival- on teeth above the gum line Subgingival- below the gum line on the roots, Gingival- along the gum line. As a general rule, plaque develops as a combination of all three of these.

Plaque is formed when foods that are high in carbohydrates (such as milk or sodas, candy or other sugars and starches) are ingested and you are unable to brush your teeth. As these sugary substances sit on your teeth, the natural bacteria that live in your mouth use this substance to produce acids.

This acid begins to work within just minutes, and starts to corrode your tooth’s enamel. Although your saliva will work to decrease the amount of acids attacking your tooth, it can take several hours for your saliva to get through the layer of plaque and reduce the acids. The longer the acid sits on your teeth, the greater the chance of causing tooth decay. When the enamel of your tooth is weakened, you will find yourself at a much greater risk of cavities and serious dental problems.

Although you can’t see plaque to know if it’s time to brush your teeth, you can feel it. Run the tip of your tongue over your teeth. If your teeth feel smooth, you are good to go. But if you feel a slight “fuzzy” feeling, odds are, you have some plaque lingering on your teeth.

So how can you reduce the plaque on your teeth, and save yourself from a hefty dental bill? You can start by using these ideas:

Brushing

The most obvious way to reduce plaque is to establish a routine of brushing. Begin by brushing your teeth at least twice a day. If you can fit in a third brushing during your day, that’s even better. If not, try to at least throw in an extra brushing after a very sugary meal. Just brushing will help, but brushing the correct way will give you even better results. It is recommended that you use a soft bristled toothbrush, and brush in a circular motion. Also, hold your toothbrush at a 90 degree angle, allowing some of the bristles to reach under your gum line. Not only will this help to remove plaque below your gums, but it also aides in strengthening your gums, keeping them holding your teeth tightly in place.

Flossing can reduce your chance of losing teeth later in life by strengthening your gums.
Flossing can reduce your chance of losing teeth later in life by strengthening your gums.

Flossing

It is recommended that you floss once a day, so as you establish your routine of healthy brushing, add in a dose of nightly flossing. You should floss gently between each tooth, but focus especially on your back teeth. These teeth are harder for a tooth brush to reach. Also, your back teeth are your “grinding” teeth, and the ones you use mostly to chew; thus they are more prone to remnants of your lunch and dinner to become stuck between them. Focusing on these hard to reach places will reduce your chance of cavities as it is exactly these places that plaque will build up the most.

Visit the Dentist

No one likes to go visit the dentist, and with today’s tight economy and in an effort to save money, many people opt to skip their routine dental visits. Sure skipping this visit may save you money now, but it can have horrendous consequences in the long run as you age. It is recommended that you visit the dentist once every six months, and it’s an appointment you can’t afford to miss. With a healthy oral routine at home, not only will your dental visit be cheaper than you think, it can actually save you money in the future by heading off more serious dental problems by identifying the beginning signs of problems.

Chew Gum

Not everyone has time to run to the bathroom to brush their teeth after a cup of coffee or a meal. For these people, a stick of gum can become a miracle worker. Don’t just use any type of gum however. Instead look for chewing gum that is sugar free. As you chew, the gum will stick to the bacteria in your mouth, scrub plaque off your teeth, and help reduce those nasty acids.

Eat Your Veggies

What many people don’t know is that certain veggies, such as celery, help to not only remove plaque, but they also up the amount of saliva you’re producing. Remember, saliva washes away that acid, so the more you produce, the less acid in your mouth. So when you’re feeling a little fuzzy, chew on some celery if you aren’t able to slip away to brush.

Eat Healthy

Maintaining a Healthy Diet is much easier said than done. You do not have to completely alter the way you eat, but making some small changes here and there can make a big difference. Instead of a candy bar, grab a granola bar. Instead of pudding, opt for plain yogurt. Instead of coffee or soda, have a bottle of water. Make a conscious effort to change one thing a week. Taking small baby steps such as these can make it easier to start eating healthier, as opposed to one huge drastic change in your diet.

Drink Water

It is common knowledge that your body needs water, and that you should drink eight 8oz. glasses of water a day. Water is just good for your overall health. However, water can also be great to help reduce the plaque caused by that unhealthy meal you had at lunch today. If you can’t brush, and don’t have any raw veggies handy, then slowly drink a glass of water. As you drink, the water will help to wash away plaque and acids from your mouth, saving your teeth.

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    • isenhower33 profile image

      Bobby Isenhower 4 years ago from Crothersville, IN

      Good hub, I vote it up :)

    • Jennifer Sides profile image

      Jennifer Sides 4 years ago from Edmonton

      Informative!

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