Plaque be gone!
Stopping plaque in its tracks
There is a reason we are told to brush our teeth at least twice daily. Almost as important, there is a very serious reason why we are told to floss regularly… and I’ll be the first to admit that until recently, I was not a flosser. Why did I change my ways? Aside from my dental hygienist yelling at me inside and outside the dentist’s office (she’s a family friend), even my friends in dental school would look at my smile and immediately say, “You don’t floss, do you?” Let me tell you, that’s not a good feeling.
But an even worse feeling is having food stuck in between your teeth, especially when you just can’t get it out by using your tongue or swishing water around. Scariest of all is seeing the resulting plaque that has grown and thrived from the sugar and waste these bits of food provide. Nobody wants to see yellow plaque or tartar growing in and around your teeth, least of all you when you’re looking at yourself in the mirror. Few things are as refreshing as flossing, brushing, and rinsing until you feel how smooth and clean your teeth are. Even doing this once a day will save you a lifetime of pain, decay, and spending as your teeth grow older and weaker.
Step by Step
Taking care of your teeth on a regular basis might be easy and fast, but plaque grows faster. Even after you go for a professional cleaning, it doesn’t take long for plaque to begin to form. Often, what makes stopping plaque so tricky is that it occurs in steps and you may not always be aware where it is or when it will start to show.
The first step of plaque growth is Association. This is when bacteria first begins to attach to saliva and proteins on the teeth. The second step is Adhesion, when bacteria begins binding itself to surfaces in your mouth. Step three is called Proliferation. This scary stage is when bacteria begins to multiply, grow, and spread throughout your mouth, leading us to the fourth step of Microcolonies. This is when the bacteria forms a slime layer to protect itself as it organizes itself into larger microcolonies. In the fifth step, Biofilm Formation, these microcolonies go on to become even more complex as they utilize metabolism to break down the foods and sugars in and around your teeth. Lastly, in Growth or Maturation, the biofilm can even develop a circulatory system to continue to grow and thrive.
Plenty of things can happen to your teeth and gums when bacteria and plaque are left unchecked. First and foremost—and perhaps the consequence that most people are aware of—is brown or yellow teeth, plaque buildup, and the accompanying bad breath. While unsightly, this may be the least of your worries.
Gingivitis is probably the most common mouth-related disease you can think of when it comes to poor oral hygiene. This inflammation is the result of biofilm, bacteria, and plaque buildup around the gums (gingiva). Signs of gingivitis are irritated, puffy, and red gums. Another tell-tale sign is if the gums bleed while brushing or flossing, a symptom you can alleviate by flossing more frequently and practicing better oral hygiene.
Surprising as it may sound, gingivitis can do some good: In the case of poor oral hygiene, gingivitis can help prevent an even worse infection, namely periodontitis. This is an all-out gum infection in which the bacteria in plaque produces enzymes that actually attack and deteriorate the bone, leading to bone loss and tooth decay. Yikes!
Avoiding these common diseases is all the more reason to brush regularly, floss, and rinse. But luckily for you, we have the perfect homemade recipe used by housewives for generation to keep your teeth just as healthy, bright, and shiny as the dentist ever could.