What Is Plaque and Why Is It Harmful?

Posted on: September 15, 2018

Oral Hygiene

Our bodies can provide an environment for plaque and the bacteria that causes it. When we do not take the appropriate steps to avoid having the environment in our mouths for plaque to form, it can be a downfall and cause many oral health issues. 

So, what exactly is plaque and how can it harm us?

Knowing the enemy

Plaque is a sticky, clear film of bacteria that forms on teeth. It is composed of bacterial culture, food particles, and sugars. The most common cause of oral health issues is plaque. Left unchecked, plaque causes dental caries, gingivitis, and periodontal disease.

So how does plaque do so much damage?

The mouth is home to plaque-causing bacteria. When a person eats, the carbohydrates, sugars, and particles that are left in the mouth and provide food for the bacteria. The bacteria act on the food source to create a coating on the teeth called plaque. From within the plaque, the bacteria produce acids that eat away at the enamel of the teeth. The bacteria then infect the gums and any parts of the inner teeth that are exposed.

Plaque can only damage the mouth and teeth if it is allowed to.

The effects of plaque on the teeth

In the absence of proper dental care, plaque hardens and turns into tartar. Tarter destroys the teeth and gums far more efficiently than typical plaque. First, cavities form. Next, the dentine and pulp get infected as bacteria advances deeper into the tooth.

Tartar also infects and inflames the gum. The inflammation eventually develops into gingivitis, which develops into what is called "periodontal disease."

The effects of plaque on the rest of the body

Inflammation of the gums is a symptom of an infection. Like all infections, it can spread into other parts of the body and affect a person's overall health in the following ways:

1. Gum inflammation triggers chronic immune response. The body is not supposed to be in a constant state of alert. If the body is always fighting infection, it will wear itself out and become weaker the longer .

2. Advanced gum disease forces the body to deal with a larger bacterial load. Bacteria that was once confined to the mouth now enters the bloodstream and proceeds to cause inflammation in the entire body. Chronic inflammation is known to be an underlying factor of heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

3. A study demonstrated a link between gum disease and diabetes. In the research done at the University of Copenhagen, gum disease was seen to raise the fasting blood sugar level of non-diabetic subjects. The blood sugar level remained consistently high, and the subjects became pre-diabetic.

The study showed that gum disease could trigger pre-diabetes and make actual diabetes that much harder to control.

4. People with gum disease are at greater risk of developing dementia. The discomfort (to put it mildly) of advanced gum disease has been associated with memory problems.

There was a study done to investigate the effect of gum disease on the memory. Two sets of participants were tested. One group had gum disease, and the other did not. That was the only difference between the two groups.

Not surprisingly, the participants with gum disease performed worse in a memory test than the healthy participants.

Healthy mouth, healthy body

Taking care of the mouth improves the health of the whole body. Neglecting oral health and allowing plaque to thrive is the first step to overall ill health.

Contact one of our dentists to get rid of calcified plaque on your teeth.

More questions? Contact us today!

Request an appointment in our Fort Lauderdale dentist office here: https://www.smilesbyjulia.com.

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