Have you noticed your teeth feel slightly sticky by the end of the day? This is because a layer of plaque will gradually build up over your teeth, especially after a meal or two. This sticky biofilm contains harmful bacteria which can produce acid that will soften your tooth enamel. In addition, plaque produces toxins that infect and inflame the gums, putting you at risk of gum disease.
It’s essential to remove plaque before it hardens into a substance called tartar which can only be scraped or scaled away by your dentist so what is the best way to do so?
Thoroughly brushing your teeth at least twice a day should help remove most plaque. A soft or medium bristled brush is best and won’t damage your teeth or gums. Take your time when brushing to make sure you clean all the tooth surfaces, including your molars right at the back of the mouth.
Any remaining plaque can be removed during flossing. Most people don’t use enough floss as you need a length of around 45cm in order to be able to use a fresh section for each tooth. If you are unsure of how to floss, ask your hygienist or dentist for a quick demonstration.
Use Fluoride Toothpaste
Fluoride toothpaste is best for preventing plaque build-up, as the fluoride hardens tooth enamel and disrupts acid production by plaque bacteria. If you are particularly concerned, choose toothpaste containing triclosan as this helps to kill off bacteria.
Changing your habits can help reduce the chances of plaque building up on your teeth. If you smoke, consider quitting as the nicotine makes it easier for plaque to stick to the teeth. Avoiding starchy snacks can help and instead choose calcium-rich cheese, or opt for crunchy fruits and vegetables as these contain lots of fibre that will have a slight scrubbing action on your teeth.