Plaque and Its Effects on Oral Health

The role of plaque in causing gingivitis and periodontitis

At the end of a long day or in the morning, if you run your tongue across your teeth, you are likely to notice a slightly ‘fuzzy’ feel to them. This sensation is partially due to the build up of a set of bacteria on the teeth which accumulates over a period of time if not removed. This bacteria is usually known as plaque.

Although the ‘fuzzy’ feeling isn’t especially unpleasant, these bacteria, if left in place for too long, will start to cause problems and are the main factor in the cause of gum disease. This, if left untreated, will eventually result in tooth loss.

Because the sensation causes no pain, it may be tempting to think that it can be left for a few days but this is not the case and plaque is relatively fast acting. Those who remember the Chilean miners that were trapped underground for a period of time may recall that, amongst other health problems that they suffered, several had severe dental problems and this would most likely have been caused by the plaque eating away at their gums and also very likely the very bone that holds them in place.

Modern Lifestyle

Sadly, it appears that the modern lifestyle is a major influencing factor in the amount of plaque that we suffer from. Ancient dental remains have indicated that plaque simply was not a major problem and that the hunter gatherers of old, who certainly didn’t have access to toothpaste or dentists, rarely suffered from dental decay. Living off a natural diet of meat, fruit, nuts and vegetables, their diet enabled them to keep their teeth in reasonable shape.

Once farming was introduced though, our diet slowly started to see an increase in sugars, the most important foodstuff for bacteria to feed on. It doesn’t take much research to know that our diet now is full of sugars and even supposedly healthy foods such as cereals are packed with it in many cases.

Family Dentistry

At Arthur House Dental Care of Sutton Coldfield, we are aware of the damage that plaque can cause and have always put an emphasis on our family dentistry service. Although, as adults, we may be aware of the damage that sugar can do (even if we ignore it), the fact is that it is very rare to find a child who does not like sweet foods and however much a parent tries, inevitably they will be able to access them.

Because of this, it is strongly encouraged that parents ensure that their children attend a dental check up on a regular basis. This ensures that any incidence of plaque buildup can be treated effectively and without the need for invasive treatments such as a deep clean. Naturally, children should be encouraged to limit their intake of sugars but regularly attending our dental practice will at least avoid the worst problems caused by plaque, such as periodontitis.

In fact, at our Sutton Coldfield Practice, we employ a qualified dental hygienist especially for this role and as well as removing any build up of plaque, she is able to offer educational advice about how to take better care of your teeth. This is especially useful for children as good habits learned early on do tend to ingrain themselves in our subconscious.

To book an appointment to see our hygienist, please call us on 0121 323 4492.