Covering the entire surface of the teeth there exists a complicated, harmless biosphere of various bacteria called a biofilm, or plaque. This biofilm is a diverse collection of bacteria colonies, which are drawn to the smooth texture of the tooth. Unlike mostly all other cells in the body, the teeth do not shed and replace their cells, only shedding once as baby teeth. Around 25, 000 bacteria species may be present in the biofilm; it is speculated that the body allows plaque to build as a way of stopping large amounts of dangerous bacteria from building up on the same surface.
However, dental plaque doesn’t stay harmless for long. At first, the plaque is soft enough to scrape or brush off, but past 10 days on the teeth, plaque becomes calculus, or tartar. Tartar is brittle and hard to remove, and while tartar and plaque are on the tooth, various fermentations and reactions caused by the bacteria produce acid that can cause cavities. Cavities are the primary danger of plaque and tartar buildup.
Saliva makes for a perfect environment for bacteria to grow in, acting as a pH buffer and maintaining a pH of around 7. Nutrients are also provided in saliva, giving the bacteria a food source. In order to prevent cavities and damage from plaque buildup, brushing your teeth is essential- saliva cannot penetrate the surface of the biofilm to balance the acid level on teeth.
Here is a short list of oral hygiene habits to reduce acidic buildup, plaque, tartar, and cavities:
Regular teeth cleanings and checkups will remove tartar and plaque buildup better than you can at home. Getting a professional cleaning twice a year is recommended to properly remove built up tartar. The application of a fluoride treatment is another common dental post-cleaning treatment that will help strengthen the teeth.
If you think you may have a cavity or want to ask about tooth cleanings, call Dr. Virk’s office at 509-838-0404 today and schedule an appointment.
111 South Post Street
Spokane, WA 99201