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You’ve heard of how plaque can damage your teeth if you don’t brush them regularly. But do you know the details about what plaque is, what it does, and how to stop it?

What Is Plaque?

Plaque is a sticky, colorless film of bacteria that forms on your teeth and can’t be rinsed away with water. Plaque bacteria feeds off of the sugars and starches from the food you eat when it isn’t cleaned off of teeth. If plaque isn’t removed when it is soft, it can harden to tartar (calculus).

What Does Plaque Do?

When plaque bacteria feeds off of the sugars from food, it produces acid. This acid attacks tooth enamel and can cause cavities to form in it over time. When plaque hardens to tartar, it creates more places for bacteria to hide. If plaque or tartar reaches the gums, it can infect them, causing swelling and bleeding. This is gingivitis, an early stage of periodontal disease.

How Can I Stop Plaque?

Plaque can cause a lot of harm to your teeth and gums, but there are several steps you can take to prevent this from happening.

  • Brush your teeth thoroughly twice a day.
  • Floss between your teeth once a day.
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste (fluoride can prevent cavity formation).
  • Avoid eating sugary or sticky foods.
  • See your dentist every six months to have your teeth professionally cleaned.