Plaque is a mixture of bacterial by-products, food particles, and saliva that builds upon the surfaces of your teeth. If your teeth feel sticky or furry, you have plaque. Plaque results from eating carbohydrates. The bacteria in your mouth combine with carbohydrates to form acid. This acid combines with food and saliva to make a paste that sticks to the surfaces in your mouth.

Plaque collects in places where it is hard to clean the gum line, between teeth, and on the soft surfaces of your mouth such as your tongue or your cheek. Over time, plaque hardens into tartar which has to be scraped off the surfaces of your teeth. The good thing about plaque is it’s not permanent. There are five ways to prevent plaque from damaging your health.

1. Brush your teeth twice a day

Don’t forget to brush all the surfaces in your mouth including the front, top, and back surfaces of your teeth, your tongue, the roof of your mouth, and the inner sides of the cheek. Most people don’t brush their teeth long enough to clean all the surfaces in their mouths. Play a song that lasts at least 2 minutes long and brush your teeth for the entire tune.

2. Floss between your teeth

To prevent plaque from deteriorating the surfaces between your teeth, floss. Use dental floss or other devices to clean the surfaces between teeth and along the gum line that the brush can’t reach.

3. Mouthwash

Rinse your teeth for thirty seconds twice a day with an antiseptic mouth rinse after brushing and flossing. An antiseptic mouth rinse does more than make your breath smell sweet it provides an added health benefit. After careful brushing to remove harmful bacteria rinsing with an antiseptic rinse helps slow the growth of new bacteria.

4. Limit sticky or sugary foods

Brush your teeth as soon as you can after eating sticky, sugary foods. Not only does the sugar stick more readily to the surfaces of your teeth, but it also provides a banquet for acid-forming bacteria. There are two stopgap measures you can use if you can’t brush right away: swish and chew.

Swish your mouth with water to dislodge larger pieces of sticky, sugary foods. Chew sugar-free gum to increase saliva production. These will not remove plaque, but they will lessen the number of food particles the bacteria feed on-less food for bacteria, less acid. You will still need to brush and floss to thoroughly remove the added plaque caused by eating sticky, sugary foods.

5. Visit your dentist regularly

A visit to the dentist and the hygienist every 6 months helps keep teeth in their best health. These visits help your dentist monitor the health of your teeth and provide the necessary care for a healthy, disease-free mouth.

Brushing, flossing, rinsing, limiting sticky, sugary foods, and Regular dentist visits are the foundation of dental health. Use these five steps to fight plaque and help you prevent gum disease and tooth decay.

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