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Dental Plaque Definition

Plaque develops when food containing sugars and starches, such as milk, cola, raisins, cakes, or chocolates are often deposited on the teeth. Bacteria that survive in the mouth grow on these foods, resulting in acids. Over time, these acids tear down the tooth enamel, resulting in tooth decay. Plaque can also grow on the tooth roots beneath the gum and causes crumbling of the bone that supports the tooth.

Dental Plaque Symptoms

Symptom of dental plaque is a sticky, pale layer of bacteria that lines the teeth and is most visible when teeth are not brushed regularly.

If you scale your teeth with the tongue, you may be able to sense this plaque forming which is to some extent coarse and is more visible on the backside of the teeth.

Dental Plaque Risk Factors

Almost all of us are at a risk of getting cavities, but the following factors increase the risk

  • Molars and Premolars are the ones mostly infected with plaque as they are cranny and can collect smaller food particles, producing the acid that destroys the enamel
  • Constant Snacking of Foods Containing Sugar and Starch such as milk, honey, cola, chips and dry fruits like raisins that stick to the teeth and not easily washed away are at a high risk
  • Bedtime Baby Feed such as milk or formula sticks to the baby’s tongue for a few hours while asleep which causes baby Bottle Tooth Decay
  • Scarce Brushing of Teeth soon after eating or drinking also allows the plaque to settle in the back of the teeth and start causing damage immediately
  • Insufficient Fluoride which is widely available in toothpastes and tap waters can reverse the plaque formation
  • Dry Mouth caused by lack of saliva in the mouth is also a high risk to plaque formation as it helps wash away the food particles from the mouth
  • Eating Disorders(Anorexia) also leads to Cavity Formation
  • Heartburn which causes a reflux (flow of stomach acid into the mouth) can also result in wearing out of the enamel in the teeth.

Dental Plaque Diagnosis

Your dentist usually detects the decay easily by examining the mouth and teeth. In certain cases, a dental x-ray is ordered to understand the intensity of the cavity and decay. He will also indicate the type of cavity which can be root decay, pit and fissure decay and smooth surface decay.

Dental Plaque Treatment

Early detection of Cavity and constant doctor checkups will minimize the degree of treatment and increases the chances of reversing the decay. Treatment of cavities depends of the intensity of the damage caused to the teeth. Options include:

Fluoride Treatments: If the decay is identified at an early stage, a Fluoride treatment restores the enamel in the teeth. A liquid or gel is brushed on the teeth or placed in a tray that fits the teeth and the treatment is done in minutes.

Fillings: This is the most widely used treatment for tooth decay where fillings or restorations are done when the decay has crossed the enamel erosion stage. There are various types of fillings available which include gold, silver amalgam, plastic, porcelain, plastic and resin fillings.

Crowns: Crowns are custom made fillings that substitute the natural crown of the teeth. The dentist drills the entire decayed area in the tooth leaving the unaffected part to provide a good fit

Root Canal: A root canal is a treatment to save the savaged tooth instead of completely removing it. The dentist extracts the pulp from the affected tooth, applies medication on the root canal to prevent further infection and a filling is placed in the place of the pulp

Tooth Extractions: A severely damaged and decayed tooth must be extracted to avoid spreading of infection. That said, the gap that arises from the extraction allows the other teeth to shift. Hence the dentist would suggest placing a bridge to replace the extracted tooth.

UPDATED ON 15/11/2023

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