Excessive plaque has many negative effects on the body. It can damage the teeth and cause them to be removed and it may contribute to gum disease (though the exact causes of gum disease are actually not fully understood as some people with excessive dental plaque have no problem with gum disease).
Plaque is made up of microscopic 'colonies' of living organisms (bacteria) that usually move around your teeth, gums, lips and teeth. A lot of this bacteria is actually harmless and some is even good for your teeth. Others however attach themselves to the hard surfaces provided by your teeth and can multiple and grown thus form 'plaque'. This can then also mix with protein in your saliva and result in a whitish film over your teeth – the visible signs of plaque.
This has many negative effects on both your teeth and your general health. For instance plaque will contribute to tooth decay by attracting sugar which the plaque uses for energy. At the same time it produces its own acid that eats up the sugar and dissolve your tooth enamel making it porous (meaning that there are gaps in it) and over time these pores can become large enough to be visible as holes in the teeth – holes known as cavities. At the same time the fact that you have bacteria spreading in your mouth can mean that your immune system is under constant pressure which then leaves you more susceptible to a range of illnesses and diseases and even leaves you more likely to develop cancer or suffer from stroke. Bacteria in the mouth is also the main cause of bad breath which can have a range of social implications.
Causes of Excessive Plaque
As such then it is very important to avoid plaque build up in the mouth. But how? And what is it that causes it to occur in the first place?
Not Brushing Your Teeth: The first cause of excessive plaque is failure to brush the teeth. Brushing the teeth will normally help to remove bacteria that has not yet managed to attach itself to the enamel securely. At the same time it can remove some of the plaque that actually has formed. Brush regularly then and brush well and you will drastically reduce the plaque in your mouth.
Not Brushing Your Teeth in the Morning: Many people think they do not need to brush their teeth in the morning if they have not eaten – however this is actually very mistaken and it's very important to brush in the morning. The reason for this is that we do not produce as much saliva during the night (saliva has disinfectant qualities and is used to kill off bacteria) meaning that the plaque has more chance to form and grow during this period. That's why our breath also smells in the morning. As such then a good brush in the morning is highly important and will show any bacteria that you're back and that you mean business.
Flossing: Flossing your teeth reaches the parts that regular brushing cannot and is just as crucial for removing plaque. Not flossing your teeth is like washing only the front of your car and then asking where all the dirt comes from on the back and studies have demonstrated that flossing your teeth actually decreases your chances of heart attack, stroke and cancer – which is pretty convincing evidence as it goes.
Diet: Eating the correct diet is important for your plaque as well as other aspects of your dental and general hygiene. Avoid foods with high levels of sugar and starch as this can help to fuel the plaque on your teeth. At the same time eat lots of fibre which can actually clean the teeth as you eat it by scraping up and down. Meanwhile you should also be sure to drink lots of water on a regular basis which can wash out your mouth of anything you just ate.
Avoiding the Dentist: Lots of us will avoid the dentist as we're afraid of bad news (and the dental operations that often come as a result of that bad news). This is counter-intuitive however as the longer you put off the dentist the worse the problems will be (and the problems themselves can be just as painful and invasive). Dentists have special tools for giving your teeth a more thorough clean and for scraping away plaque and thus they are crucial for avoiding it building up.