Debunking 3 Common Myths About Dental Plaque

28 June 2016
 Categories: Dentist, Blog

Dental plaque is one of the leading causes of dental problems. Despite that fact--or perhaps because of it--many people's understanding of dental plaque is marred by erroneous myths. If you would like to get your facts straight where plaque is concerned, read on. This article will debunk three of the most common myths concerning dental plaque.

Plaque is the name for a type of bacteria.

In fact, dental plaque is not a type bacteria at all, although it does provide the ideal breeding ground for a host of such unwanted microorganisms. You see, plaque is the name of the sticky, soft substance that accumulates on the surface of unclean teeth. It is a conglomeration of such things as decomposing food particles, dead cells, and saliva.

Plaque forms a highly attractive food source for up to 400 different species of bacteria. The vast majority of these do not pose any direct threat to the health of your teeth. Unfortunately, however, one or two plaque-loving species do. When plaque is allowed to build up unimpeded, these species begin to produce acids that break down your dental enamel.

Plaque takes a long time to form.

People often assume that plaque takes a long time to build up on the teeth. This couldn't be further from the truth. The fact is that plaque formation starts up more or less the exact instant you finish brushing your teeth. Don't let that thought cause you too much worry, though. In that early stage, plaque is mainly made up of glycoproteins deposited on your teeth by your saliva, thus forming a thin film referred to commonly as dental pellicle.

In and of itself, this substance doesn't pose much of a threat. Yet it increases the rate at which plaque's more destructive elements begin to accrue. The longer plaque is allowed to build up and remain in place, the more dangerous it becomes. That's because, once the plaque gets deep enough, it will allow the for the growth of acid producing anaerobic bacteria, which are one of the leading causes of plaque related problems.

Plaque only causes cavities.

Plaque is capable of causing not only cavities, but a wide variety of dental and gum-related ailments. The first stage of decay caused by plaque is known as demineralization. During this phase, acids produced by bacteria cause the surface of your tooth to undergo chemical changes. These weaken the enamel, often leading to the appearance of white or cloudy spots.

Cavities ensue once the decay has eaten all the way through the enamel. If the problem is still not attended to properly, a painful infection of your dental pulp may ensue. This may require root canals or, should the infection become serious enough, dental extraction. Thus it is important to remove plaque by means of consistent dental hygiene, as well as by regular visits to your dentist.

For more information, contact A Q Denture Services or a similar organization.