What is plaque?
- Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria occuring on teeth. This film of bacteria feeds on sugars and releases acid. This can cause tooth decay and toxins which can then lead to gum disease (gingivitis) and jaw bone disease.
- Plaque is normally felt rather than seen. It can best be described as the furry stuff on your teeth after you come home from a long day or night out.
- If left for a long period of time, plaque can harden and build up into calculus / tartar.
What is calculus/ tartar?
- Calculus is built up of hardened plaque. This build up is the perfect place for bacteria to grow and can ultimately result in loss of teeth or jaw bone disease.
- Calculus cannot be brushed off and needs to be cleaned off by the dentist or hygienist.
To put the whole process of plaque leading to calculus into perspective, we see this same process in many aspects of life. This process in engineering is known as fouling. We see this overtime as a slow process of barnacles building up on a boat which in turn causes problems with the running of the boat and also, for example limescale build up in pipes resulting in problems with delivery of water.
The same scenario applies to teeth. The build up of plaque and calculus results in problems with the teeth and gums. Early and routine removal of this buildup will result in less problems down the track for your oral health.
Why are my gums bleeding? (Gingivitis)
Bleeding gums are caused by an irritant. This aggravates the gums which then become inflamed and swollen, eventually causing the gums to bleed. Reasons for gum irritation include:
- The presence of plaque.
- The presence of build up (calculus/ tartar).
- Food being trapped between teeth.
Removing the cause of the bleeding gums will stop the gums from bleeding. This could be as simple as brushing the plaque off the teeth or flossing the food out. However, build up of tartar on the teeth will need to be removed by a dentist or hygienist as the tartar is hardened on the tooth.
Prolonged irritation to the gums can lead to more serious problems such as Jaw Bone Disease (Periodontitis).
What is Jaw Bone Disease (Periodontitis)
- Periodontitis or jaw bone disease is when the jaw bone has been eaten away from the tooth. This is a result of prolonged exposure to plaque and tartar or in rare cases rotting food.
- The bacteria in plaque releases toxins which lead to the loss of jaw bone, and shrinking and receding of the gums. The end stage of this process is loose teeth and eventually loss of the tooth.
- Whilst the above may seem rather drastic, did you know that the most common cause for tooth loss is not from decay but in fact from jaw bone disease?
- Did you know that there is more gum disease in the adult population than there is decay?
- Did you know that the main reason for tooth loss is because of severe gum disease?
Confused? The flow chart summarises it all below:
Our active maintenance program
Sounds Horrible doesn’t it.
The relationship between plaque, gum disease, plaque and rotting teeth has been heavily researched. The best way to stop gum disease from occurring is to prevent it from occurring. Don’t worry it is so easy to prevent with our active maintenance program:
- Helps to prevent gum and jaw bone disease
- It is like getting your car regularly serviced. A regular service means your car runs more smoothly and nips any potential problems in the bud before they become large problems
- Regular checkups and cleans will prevent gum disease and also pick up any problems before they become painful and expensive
Some simple tips to prevent plaque, bleeding gums and jaw bone disease
- Brush well twice a day.
- Floss daily.
- Regular and routine dental cleans will remove the calculus through our active maintenance program (usually every 6 months).
That’s it. Easy.