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Long Beach Dental Information on Dental Plaque

How to Reduce Dental Plaque


Dental plaque is an enemy to your mouth. As plaque builds on your teeth, it devours the enamel off your teeth, causing cavities and gum decay. Additionally, bacteria from plaque causes bad breath and yellow teeth.


What is plaque?


Take your fingernail and scrape it gently across the inside of one of your molars. Now look at your finger. See that white stuff under your fingernail? Plaque is a film of living and dead bacteria that grows on your teeth, and when it isn’t removed, it can harden into calculus, commonly called tartar. When plaque and tartar build on your teeth and gums, the result can be gingivitis and periodontal disease.


You can’t remove tartar; it requires professional help to remove, but you can remove plaque. And by removing plaque from your teeth, you will prevent tartar from forming. Brushing and flossing your teeth twice a day is the best way to remove plaque and keep your teeth, gums and breath healthy.

  • Pay attention to your diet. Plaque needs carbohydrates to form, so the less carbohydrates you eat, the better.

  • Brush often. The friction of a toothbrush disrupts the bacterial plaque growth on the teeth. Angle your toothbrush bristles to a 45-degree angle where your tooth and gum meet, then gently wiggle your brush in small circles, covering one or two teeth at a time. Attack from the back, which is where the plaque is most likely to hide. Spend from 2 - 4 minutes brushing your teeth, and make sure to brush at night. Never allow a day’s worth of debris to sleep in your mouth. Buy a brush with soft rounded bristles that fits into the smallest crevasses of your mouth, and hold your brush like a pen. A pen grip, instead of the more common tennis racket grip, produces less gum abrasion and healthier gums and still gets rid of plaque.

  • Floss correctly. When it comes to plaque control, flossing is more important than brushing. Slow down and take your time.

  • Use a fluoride toothpaste recommended by the American Dental Association. Also use a baking soda scrub a couple of times/week.

  • Use mouthwash or water after meals, especially when you can’t brush. Try Listerine, which is effective in reducing plaque when used alone or when toothbrushing. For a homemade mouthwash, use a half-and-half mixture of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide and water.

  • When you can’t brush or floss after a meal, pop a stick of gum in your mouth. Spend about 20 minutes chewing sugarless gum after meals or snacks.

  • Green tea, cranberry juice, olive oil and red wine help prevent plaque build-up. However, red wine can stain your teeth, so be aware.

Dental plaque isn’t a pleasant subject, but if left untreated, it can cause serious dental hygiene problems such as tooth decay and gum disease. Learning about plaque should encourage you to brush and floss so that you don’t have to encounter these types of dental hygiene problems. At Bayshore Dental, patients in Long Beach, Bellflower, Signal Hill, Lakewood and Seal Beach trust Dr. Rench and his staff to keep their smiles looking beautiful and you can too. Call us at 562-494-3477 to schedule an appointment or to get more information.

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