Did you forget to brush your teeth after eating your lunch a while ago? If so, run your tongue on your teeth right now. Can you feel a film surrounding your teeth? That’s what you call plaque.

Plaque is the main reason you need to brush your teeth. Dentists would recommend flossing daily to remove plaque build-up in between teeth which the normal brushing cannot reach.

There is nothing you can do to stop plaque. It happens naturally inside the mouth. As Santa Ana dentist Dr. Acevedo says, what you need to fight is the formation of tartar or hardened plaque since it is the one that causes more health problems not just to the mouth but to other organs inside the body.

Plaque accumulates bacteria and the more it stays in the mouth, the more chances it can lead to the formation of tartar. If not removed right away, plaque can penetrate around each tooth’s crevices. Though it is mostly colorless, the dental plaque also causes stains and makes the teeth yellow.  It makes your teeth feel fuzzy or rough when it accumulates.

The color and the feel of the teeth are just two of the most common symptoms of tartar. Other symptoms of plaque build-up include bad breath and red swollen gums. Children and the elderly are most high-risk groups for these dental problems.

Without proper oral hygiene, plaque acids can start to sink into the tooth enamel, and will start to destroy it and cause tooth decay (cavities) over time. Tooth decay can cause tooth abscesses. Tooth abscesses need to extracted since it might cause severe complication in the mouth and in internal organs such as the heart.

When the plaque is developed on the root of the tooth under the gum line, the acids can damage the bone that holds the teeth. It can also lead to gingivitis which when not treated, can lead to periodontitis. Periodontitis is the stage when the plaque creates toxins that irritate the gums, causing them to swell and bleed.

Dental plaque that stays on teeth for several days can harden or calcifies to a substance known as tartar. Tartar can no longer be removed by simple brushing. Only dentists can scrape off hard-seated tartar which is very uncomfortable and sometimes, painful procedure.

Aside from regular brushing and flossing, it is extremely helpful to get a professional cleaning every six months. By having a dentist or a dental hygienist clean your teeth and mouth completely, they can remove most traces of plaque and tartar.