Plaque is never a welcome sight and can be an indication of poor health. Specifically, it can be a sign of tooth decay as well as the onset of gingivitis or periodontitis. Commonly found between the teeth, plaque starts as a sticky transparent film and progresses to a brown or pale yellow tartar.
Other terms used to describe the unsightly deposit are a microbial plaque, oral biofilm, dental biofilm, dental plaque biofilm or bacterial plaque biofilm. It forms most often between the teeth, but can also be present on tooth surfaces, dentures and bridges, and restorations. It is important to note that everyone has dental plaque. However, the severity and consequences vary.
What is plaque made of?
Dental plaque consists of bacteria known as anaerobes, which feed in the ideal moist and warm environment of the mouth. With saliva acting as a buffer maintaining the PH balance in the mouth between 6 and 7, it contains essential amino acids and gingival crevicular fluid that provide the diet for anaerobes.
The type of anaerobe depends on the fluctuations in the normal temperature of the mouth, which typically ranges between 35 and 36 ℃. This temperature keeps oxygen levels in the mouth semi-stable and perfect conditions for anaerobes to survive.
Two methods of dental plaque detection are through the use of disclosing gel and visual observation. Disclosing gel acts as a dye that turns red to indicate plaque build up, making it clinically visible. Tablets are also used in the same way but are placed in the mouth and chewed for about a minute.
They are effective for showing if plaque is present but not the level of severity and are often prescribed to patients with orthodontic appliances. They are appropriate for use for all ages. Visual detection is usually made in the dental clinic since it is difficult to see.
However, the deposits are felt like a thick, fuzzy deposit that may appear as a yellow, tan, or brown stain. Dental instruments are then used to scrape up the plaque either on the teeth or cervical margins.
What are the consequences of plaque?
As mentioned before, gingivitis and periodontitis are just two of the consequences of not detecting severe dental plaque in time. Gingivitis, also known as gum disease, is caused by a bacterial infection.
Remember the anaerobes? Well, those little guys can get stuck in the gumline in small spaces called sulcus and cause an infection. When this happens, the gums become inflamed and bleed. If left unchecked, this inflammation can affect supporting tissue and progress to periodontitis.
Periodontitis is an infection of the gums that leads to bone deterioration. Not all individuals who have gingivitis will develop periodontitis. However, periodontitis can be treated with a strict oral hygiene regimen that includes surgical debridement by a dentist.
With this in mind, it is important to note the risk factors for gingivitis:
- Broken filings
- Smoking and chewing tobacco
- Crooked teeth
- Compromised immunity
Being aware of the symptoms can also help you prevent the onset of the disease. These symptoms include:
- Pain when chewing
- Gums that bleed
- Red, tender, or swollen gums
- Sensitive teeth
- Loose teeth
- Pus between teeth and gums
- Teeth that have pulled away from the gums
- Foul smelling breath that doesn’t go away after brushing
Another consequence of dental plaque is caries. Dental caries, also known as tooth decay or cavities, is an infection that can break down more dental tissue. While everyone is susceptible, certain individuals are more at risk due to genetic or preventative risk factors.
Symptoms of tooth decay can be pain or sensitivity causing difficulty when eating. The acid from the anaerobes dissolves the hard tissues of the teeth. The best way to prevent cavities involves regular teeth cleaning, a low sugar diet, and small amounts of fluoride from water, salt, or toothpaste regularly.
Currently, approximately 32% of the world’s population have dental caries. Nearly all adults have had dental caries at some point in time.
So, when your parents told you to eat your vegetables and slow down on the candy, they knew a thing or two. Here at Gables Sedation, we know a thing or two about teeth and can answer any questions you may have regarding good oral hygiene.
With our innovative technology, we are better equipped to target specific areas and address any dental issues you may have. The key is early detection so don’t wait. Get in touch today!