A Disturbing Look at Dental Plaque

woman with disgusted look on her faceSince we were young, most of us have been taught to protect our teeth from dental plaque by brushing and flossing them at least twice every day. Yet, if asked, would you be able to explain what, exactly, dental plaque is? Or, why the sticky film is such a threat? Understanding what plaque is made of could help you understand why skipping even one or two sessions with your toothbrush can lead to serious trouble.

Sharing Your Meals

To you, dental plaque can be annoying, even gross, especially when there’s a lot of it coating your teeth. To the bacteria that live in your mouth (which form dental plaque to begin with), the film serves as protection against your mouth’s natural defenses, like saliva. Every time your teeth are exposed to food and beverages, the bacteria in plaque feed on the nutrients, metabolizing them into harmful substances like acids that erode teeth, or toxins that irritate your periodontal tissue (gums).

What Happens If You Ignore Plaque?

Some experts equate the bacteria in your mouth to a miniature ecological forest; they’ve identified over 600 different kinds of microorganisms that tend to remain in certain areas of the mouth (though most contribute to plaque formation).

For instance, some bacteria prefer the surfaces of your teeth, like Streptococcus mutans, and convert sugar and other carbs into acids that eat away tooth enamel, making teeth susceptible to decay and cavities. Others that prefer staying close to your gum line, such as Porphyromonas gingivalis, can incite gum disease by causing excessive inflammation, or by releasing chemicals that damage the connective tissues between your gums and your teeth.

The Best Way to Protect Against Oral Bacteria

If you brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once, you can largely control oral bacteria and dental plaque formation. However, the only way to keep your teeth clean and safe in the long-run is to maintain a regular schedule of dental checkups and cleanings (every six months, or as often as recommended) to allow Dr. Vlachakis the chance to thoroughly inspect your teeth and oral tissues. Our talented hygienists will also perform a comprehensive cleaning to remove residual deposits of plaque and tartar (calcified plaque) from your teeth and underneath your gum line.


At Healthy Smiles Family Dentistry in Houston, TX, Dr. Amy Vlachakis (pronounced Vla-ha-kiss) and her dedicated staff strive to make everyone feel like family, while providing top-notch general, cosmetic, and family dentistry services to patients of all ages. To learn more, or to schedule a consultation, call our office today at (281) 974-4494. Located in Memorial City Plaza, we proudly serve patients in Houston, Memorial City, Bunker Hill, West Beltway, City Center, Hedwig Village, and all surrounding communities.

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Looking for a dentist you can trust? Give us a call today to experience everything Healthy Smiles Family Dentistry has to offer.