If you’ve ever gone more than 24 hours before brushing your teeth, then perhaps you’ve noticed a gritty layer beginning to develop on the surface of your teeth. This sticky bacterial substance may be plaque build-up, and it can be detrimental to more than just your dental health.
Plaque is always forming on your teeth, and it grows every time you eat or drink. Sugary and starchy foods and beverages have a particularly notable effect on the teeth, causing bacteria to release acids that harm your tooth enamel. And if plaque hardens, it can turn into tartar, also known as calculus, which develops above and below the gum line causing it to recede. But why exactly is plaque so threatening to your overall health?
Dental Effects of Plaque Build-Up
Plaque build-up found on the teeth is so sticky and intrusive that, over time as it breaks down, it can destroy the enamel of the tooth and lead to decay. The over-saturation of plaque on the teeth can also cause a form of gum disease called gingivitis, which inflames the gums and potentially causes them to bleed.
If we don’t address plaque build-up quickly, it can cause severe periodontal gum disease. With this condition, the gum tissue detaches from the teeth letting in bacteria to destroy the bone that lies beneath and supports the teeth. If periodontal gum disease forms, it creates a susceptibility to an even more severe and life-threatening health condition known as heart disease.
Plaque and the Heart
Some experts have observed that people with gum disease are more likely to develop heart disease. For this reason, many cardiologists will ask their patients about gum disease issues to provide more targeted care. Some dentists are encouraged to inquire with patients about heart health and any family history of heart disease. These important indicators can help your dentist provide preventative recommendations and treatment options that keep your teeth, gums, and heart in top shape.
Heart health is just as important as dental health and the condition of your gums. So it’s important to take your dental hygiene practices very seriously and never miss a day of giving yourself the dental care that you need to stay healthy. To avoid plaque and tartar build-up, follow these dental care recommendations:
- Brush at least twice a day for two minutes at a time.
- Floss after every meal to remove food residue from between the teeth.
- Rinse your mouth daily with an antiseptic mouthwash that destroys bacteria that causes plaque.
- Maintain a healthy diet that’s low in sugar and starchy foods.
- Refrain from smoking, which researchers believe can cause tartar.
- Have your teeth thoroughly cleaned every six months.
We know that plaque build-up can lead to many other serious health conditions including diabetes, dementia, rheumatoid arthritis, and even premature childbirths in pregnant women. This just goes to show that plaque, often overlooked as a minor issue, can have a devastating impact on your health. But with a healthy dental routine and professional cleanings, you can potentially avoid serious health complications. Maintain healthy teeth today for a healthy heart tomorrow.