Preventing Plaque: How to prevent oral bacteria buildup

preventing plaque for better oral health

Learn the best ways of preventing plaque buildup so that you can avoid oral problems like bad breath, dental cavities, and gum disease.

There are countless reasons to try to avoid plaque buildup. But many people don’t realize some of the simplest preventive steps they can take to keeping their teeth and mouth healthy and plaque free. If you care about your smile’s appearance and health, here is what you need to know about how plaque develops and why it’s important to stop it.

Why is preventing plaque important?

Plaque bacteria forms a biofilm in every mouth, but it is when they’re allowed to build up on teeth that problems are created. Once this sticky film has calcified onto the teeth it is called tartar buildup, and it can only be removed through a professional cleaning.

Unfortunately, many people skip their regular appointments, not realizing there is a problem. The longer tartar rests on teeth, the longer it has to develop acidity. Increased acidity can lead to cavities and many other dental issues, including gum disease.

Tips for preventing build up on your teeth

Prevent cavities and gum disease by taking these steps:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day: A third time around noon is also helpful for people who are prone to plaque buildup. If your are over 50, studies show that brushing with a slurry of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide may offer more than toothpaste.
  • Try using an electric toothbrush: Electric brushes have helped many do a better job of preventing plaque.
  • Floss daily: Cleaning between the teeth removes food particles and bacteria that brushing leaves behind.
  • Use a tongue scraper: Found in the oral health aisle, tongue scrapers have been shown to be the most effective means of removing bacteria from the tongue
  • Drink plenty of water: Staying hydrated is healthy for your body. But drinking lots of water also helps rinse particles from the teeth surfaces between brushings. Keeping the mouth hydrated also helps increase saliva production, which is a natural defense against plaque calcification.
  • Limit your sugar intake: Plaque feeds on sugars found in carbs and other foods. Therefore, decreasing sugar consumption can significantly reduce plaque.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet: Fresh fruits and vegetables help remove food debris. They also stimulate saliva production and neutralize plaque-causing acids.
  • Visit your dentist regularly: Routine cleanings help prevent plaque buildup on the teeth. Your dentist can also detect other issues before they progress, keeping your overall dental health in check.

What happens if plaque or tartar are left untreated?

If plaque isn’t addressed in a timely manner, it can lead to a host of other oral health problems, including:

  • Cavities: The bacteria found in plaque produce acids that attack your enamel. These acids cause a low pH level inside the mouth and eat away at the tooth enamel.
  • Gum disease: When plaque accumulates at the gum line, the tissue becomes very red and irritated. This condition is known as gingivitis and it will worsen without proper treatment.
  • Bad breath: The oral bacteria in dental plaque can cause halitosis, or chronic bad breath.

Preventing Plaque: Spotting the Early Signs of Trouble

When plaque is newly formed, it can actually be clear, which makes it incredibly difficult to see. That’s why good dental care and routine cleanings are so important.

Everyone accumulates plaque at different rates. Some individuals will develop plaque much faster than others.

Routine brushing and flossing at home can help keep plaque at bay for a few months until it’s time for the next professional cleaning. If you want to know if you’re effectively removing plaque at home, purchase some disclosing tablets. These tablets highlight areas that have too much plaque buildup so you can brush more efficiently.

What kind of toothpaste should I use for preventing plaque?

There are plenty of toothpaste options on the market. It can be difficult to know which one is right for you. The best way to choose a toothpaste is to look for the ADA’s Seal of Approval. When you see this logo on the packaging, it means that the formula has been through approved rigorous testing and has been for use on many levels.

Two of the most popular brands that are approved by the ADA include Crest® Pro-Health and Colgate® Total.

What other products are helpful for preventing plaque?

As mentioned above, flossing is equally important as brushing. There are several tools that are effective for cleaning between the teeth.

What’s right for you will depend on your own preferences and dental work. For example, if you have a bridge, you’ll need to clean underneath it. This can be accomplished with floss threaders. Many patients find that proxy brushes or dental picks are perfect for the job.

To determine the best method for cleaning the teeth, talk to your dentist or hygienist. Your dental team can demonstrate how different tools work and can help you find one that works for you.

Learn more about preventing the buildup of plaque

Prevent unsightly yellow marks from appearing on the teeth. Remember, while cosmetic treatment can help provide a bright white smile, a smile’s beauty begins with healthy gums and strong teeth. These can best be obtained through a combination of at home dental hygiene, and regular professional checkups.