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Your healthy smile relies on the daily care and attention you give your teeth and gums to keep away plaque. Plaque is the clear sticky film that coats your pearly whites and wreaks havoc on tooth enamel. And this is no easy feat as tooth enamel is the strongest substance in the human body, even stronger than bone. But plaque can be considered the kryptonite of tooth enamel. How does it manage to damage the enamel? Plaque coats the teeth, causing enamel to erode over time. Just how does plaque achieve this?

First, realize that the mouth is home to colonies of bacteria. Bacteria in the mouth feeds on the sugars released from the foods and drinks you consume, those sugary, starchy, foods specifically. The bacteria then create acids, which, unless you remove them daily through brushing and flossing will harden into tartar. In fact, unless you remove plaque while it is still soft it will require removal by your dentist using scaling instruments.

So what happens as plaque begins building up on your teeth? Well, as the acids attack the tooth enamel the minerals in the enamel begin to diminish. This allows tiny holes to form in the enamel allowing bacteria and acid to reach the dentin, which is the sensitive layer of tooth under the enamel (sensitive because it contains tubules that lead to the nerves in the tooth pulp). So, beneath the dentin lies the pulp of the tooth which houses the blood vessels and nerves.

Once bacteria reach the pulp, you will feel the effects, such as pain when you bite down, tooth sensitivity or a persistent toothache. Left untreated, your body will fight the infection by creating an abscess in the tooth, and you will have a pocket of pus in the pulp.

You can enlist the help of your dentist for periodic dental cleanings to remove tartar, as well as your own daily care to your teeth and gums. Enlist the help of a good toothbrush, fluoride toothpaste, and a form of dental floss to remove plaque while it is still soft. These are all tools for you to use to avoid plaque’s destructive effects.

If it is time for your next cleaning with one of our dedicated dentists, Dr. Jason Nicoletti, or Dr. Victor Feit, please call our dental teams in Poughkeepsie and Millbrook, New York, today. Your smile will thank you!