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The Long-Term Effects of Plaque Build-up

Having healthy teeth and gums is a goal everyone should strive for. Daily brushing and flossing are habits that will contribute to that along with seeing the dentist every six months for a thorough cleaning and dental exam.

Plaque can have devastating effects when allowed to build on teeth. Tooth decay and gum disease are major issues that can lead to infection and even tooth loss.

Plaque starts out as a sticky substance that clings to teeth particularly at the gum line. In a matter of hours, plaque begins to harden on teeth. With each sugary beverage or snack, plaque continues to grow building on teeth.

Once plaque has had the time to harden on teeth, the only way to remove it is with a professional cleaning. Plaque needs to be scraped away starting just below the gum line to keep gum tissue healthy.

If dental appointments are skipped, plaque will continue to grow. Dental decay can permeate the enamel on teeth from the bacteria in plaque. At this point, the cavity must be repaired. If not caught early, the cavity can continue to burrow deep within the tooth. This can lead to infection requiring a root canal to prevent an abscess.

Dental decay can also lead to a fractured tooth. Once a tooth cracks, the only way to salvage it is with a dental crown.

Plaque on teeth can also contribute to gum disease. Gum disease usually starts with gingivitis, a condition with symptoms like red swollen gums, bleeding gum tissue, and chronic halitosis.

Gingivitis can lead to the more serious periodontitis, where teeth can feel loose and actually begin to pull away from gum tissue.

However, all of these dental problems may be avoided by following these few rules:

  1. Brush at least twice per day with a fluoridated tooth paste or gel (more often, if possible).
  2. Floss teeth thoroughly at least once per day.
  3. Rinse with a fluoridated mouth wash as directed by your dental provider.
  4. See the dentist every six months for cleaning, polishing, and a dental exam.

Following all of these recommendations with diligence will provide the best opportunity to maintain the healthiest teeth and gums possible. However, if any dental concerns occur, the best course of action is to call your dental provider before a small problem escalates into a major dental repair.

For more information and to schedule your next visit, contact the office of Dr. John B. Morris at 269-979-1500 today.