What is Plaque, Why does it Decay our Teeth?

What is plaque?

Plaque is a soft, sticky film that builds up on your teeth and contains millions of bacteria. It is perfectly natural even though it’s unwanted.  It is the bacteria in plaque that causes tooth decay and gum disease.  To remove it we need to brush and floss twice a day.


imageWhy does plaque decay our teeth?

When we eat food plaque bacteria uses the sugars and starches in the food to produce acids.  This acid eats away at the tooth enamel on our teeth.  It can do this because plaque, which contains bacteria and acids, is a sticky substance and adheres to your teeth.  If this happens again and again the enamel will break down, eventually resulting in a cavity (or hole) in the tooth surface.

The picture shows you a little boy who has just cleaned his teeth.  But, they are bright red, why?  He has rinsed a disclosing tablet through his teeth.  Areas that are coloured show where plaque remains.  Brush them again, to brush the stain off and you’ll be brushing the plaque away too.  Yes, we’ll buy some. X


Why do we Clean our Teeth?

We brush our teeth to keep our mouth clean, just as we wash our face and body.  There are lots of benefits to clean teeth and we’ve tried to think of a few and look up some others.

Healthy primary teeth
Healthy primary teeth

We clean our teeth to:

  • keep them and our gums healthy
  • keep them looking clean, white and sparkly
  • have fresh and smooth teeth when we feel them with our tongue.

If we don’t clean our teeth they decay.  Then, the chances are that your teeth will need fillings, gums get infected with an abscess and nerves in the teeth will become infected and die.  This may then lead to root canal treatment or tooth extraction.

Decaying primary teeth
Decaying primary teeth

This all sounds pretty painful to me.

Gum disease is the largest cause of tooth loss in adults and has been linked to other medical problems such as, heart disease, strokes, diabetes and respiratory (lung) disease.

So, clean your teeth and do your best to have a happy healthy shining smile.

Primary teeth diagram
Primary teeth