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The inside of your mouth is a miraculous thing. It is home to the teeth and gums, tongue and throat, and ….millions of bacteria. Every time you eat and drink, this oral bacteria reacts with the sugar that is produced, creating acid which multiplies quickly into a sticky film you can feel when you touch your tongue to the back of your teeth near the gum line. This bacterial film that coats your teeth is colorless, and feels rough to your tongue. If you don’t clean it while it’s soft it eventually hardens and is becomes harder to remove.

What does plaque do?
This bacterial acid eventually deteriorates tooth enamel, that hard layer covering the softer dentin underneath. It strips the minerals from your enamel, causing holes. This is the early stage of a cavity. As this plaque wears down the enamel to reach the dentin it can feel sensitive and is vulnerable to acid erosion. If it is allowed to persist, it keeps wearing down the tooth’s structure as the acid decays the tooth. As it reaches the pulp (which houses the nerves and blood vessels), it has reached the most sensitive part of your tooth. Here the bacteria irritate the pulp which makes it swell. You may now experience severe toothache and sensitivity, and it will likely hurt to chew. As your tooth becomes abscessed, you will have an infection, which is the creation of a pocket of pus; your body sending white blood cells to the area to fight the infection.

How to prevent plaque buildup

–Make it a priority to brush and floss twice each day.
–Avoid dry mouth by staying well hydrated, as saliva works to protect your teeth and gums.
–Eat a balanced diet and avoid snacking in between meals.
–See your dentist at least once a year to remove hardened tartar.

If tartar isn’t removed it can turn into periodontitis. This is a severe form of gum disease causing the bone which supports the teeth to break down. As the gums recede they can pull away from the teeth and destroy the supporting bone and result in tooth loss. So don’t skip those scheduled dental cleanings!

Drs. Catalina Cruz Johnson and Katya Shevchenko are here to help you with all your dental needs. Call us at 713-861-8323 if you have any questions or to schedule your next appointment!