Prevent Plaque With Good Oral Hygiene

What Is Plaque?

Plaque is a sticky layer of bacteria containing film that accumulates on the teeth, especially in places where toothbrushes cant reach. Many of the foods that we eat cause the bacteria in the mouth to produce acids, and these acids are what cause tooth decay. Sugary foods are obvious sources of plaque, but starches – such as bread, crackers, and cereal – also power these bacteria into producing acid.

How Does Plaque Affect The Mouth?

Plaque contains bacteria that irritate the gums, making them red, sensitive, and susceptible to bleeding. Consistent plaque build-up and acid release can cause tooth enamel to break down and this creates cavities. Plaque that is not removed with thorough daily brushing and cleaning between the teeth will eventually harden into calculus or tartar. This makes it even harder to get your teeth clean. When tartar collects above the gum line, the gum tissue can become swollen and bleeds easily. This is what we call gingivitis, and is the early stage of the gum disease called periodontitis. You can prevent plaque buildup and keep teeth cavity free by regularly visiting your dentist, brush after eating with a fluoride toothpaste, and cleaning between the teeth with dental floss daily.

How Can I Reduce The Plaque on My Child’s Teeth?

The best way to remove plaque is by teaching your child to brush his or her teeth for at least 2 minutes, at least twice per day. Brushing removes the plaque from most tooth surfaces. Be sure to show your child how to use a soft-bristled toothbrush, and instruct him or her to use the proper circular motion when brushing to include both teeth and gums. Make sure to teach your child to brush the tongue as well, because this removes excess bacteria and freshens breath. Also teach your child to remove plaque from between their teeth by using floss once a day. Start flossing between your child’s teeth as soon as they have two teeth touching each other (usually about 1 year old). Your child should continue to floss as they grow older so that it becomes a part of their oral hygiene routine. In addition to brushing, daily flossing is essential for preventing tooth decay and gum disease.

Be sure that you and your child see your dentist for regular cleanings and check-ups. Getting your teeth professionally cleaned helps prevent gum disease, removes tartar buildup, and eliminates stains the regular brushing and flossing can’t. Your dentist also will examine your and your child’s entire mouth and can detect issues early, before they become bigger and more painful problems.

For more Oral Hygiene Tips talk to your dentist or visit

Brought to you by The Academy of General Dentistry.