What Is Plaque and Why Should You Care?

What is Plaque?

Plaque is a sticky film that builds up on teeth. It's made up of a mixture of food and the bacteria that live in your mouth. These harmful bacteria feed on the food you eat and then excrete acidic waste that breaks down the enamel of your teeth, causing cavities.This sticky plaque can also sneak underneath our gums leading to gum disease.

Gum disease can range from gingivitis (inflammation and redness of the gums) to periodontitis (deterioration of the jaw bone around your teeth). Plaque formation is a never-ending cycle that begins right after you brush and/or floss your teeth. Its formation is accelerated each time you eat, especially foods and drinks that are high in sugar or starch. Other factors that increase plaque formation are having a dry mouth, history of head/neck radiation, smoking, and vaping.

What does plaque feel like?

The fuzzy feeling that you feel as you run your tongue across your teeth is plaque. While there is nothing that can be done about plaque forming on your teeth, there are many things that can be done to slow the rate of formation and protect your teeth and gums from the negative impacts of plaque.

How can I prevent it?

The number one thing you can do to prevent the cavities and gum disease caused by plaque is to brush, floss, and scrape your tongue twice each day. Electric toothbrushes with 30,000-60,000 vibrations have been proven to remove sticky plaque much more effectively than manual toothbrushes. In a similar fashion, the sonic vibrations and gum sweeps of the Slate Electric flosser are significantly more effective at disrupting and removing the plaque in between teeth than traditional string floss.

The Slate Electric Flosser also massages and stimulates the gums better than any other product on the market. Not only does this function keep your gums healthy, it also prevents inflammation, tenderness, and bleeding.

Beyond flossing and brushing, it's important to acknowledge that a good percentage of the bacteria in our mouths lives in the hairs, pits, and fissures on the surface of the tongue. While brushing the tongue with your toothbrush is somewhat effective, using a tongue scraper like the one on the back of the Slate Electric Flosser does a much better job at disrupting and removing harmful bacteria that can migrate to the teeth and gums, causing cavities and gum disease.

Outside of standard dental care, other things that can help to slow plaque formation are consuming foods with less sugar and/or starch, chewing sugar free gum with xylitol after meals, using a soft pick (Christmas tree) to clean between your teeth after eating, swishing with an alcohol-free mouth rinse, visiting your dentist every 6 months for a cleaning, and abstaining from smoking and/or vaping.             

We hope that these insights set you up for success as you continue in the never-ending battle against plaque! If you're using the right tools, we're confident you can keep your mouth clean.