On the surface of teeth, plaque, a sticky coating of germs, forms. It can build up on teeth hours after brushing and flossing and is made up of germs, food particles, and saliva. Because the bacteria in plaque produce acids that can destroy the enamel on teeth and irritate the gums, plaque is a primary cause of tooth decay and gum disease.
A bacterial film known as dental plaque accumulates on the surface of teeth. The bacteria in plaque release acids that can damage tooth enamel when you consume sweet or starchy meals. This acid can erode the enamel over time, causing tooth decay.
Plaque is more prone to form from some foods than others. Foods heavy in sugar and starch, such as bread, candies, and cookies, can help plaque build up on teeth. This is so because the bacteria in plaque create acid as a consequence of using sugar as an energy source. Tooth decay can result from the acid that the bacteria create attacking the enamel on teeth.
There are several different types of sugar, including:
- Monosaccharides: These are simple sugars that consist of a single molecule. Examples include glucose, fructose, and galactose.
- Disaccharides: These are sugars that consist of two monosaccharide molecules joined together. Examples include sucrose (table sugar), lactose (milk sugar), and maltose (grain sugar).
- Oligosaccharides: These are sugars that consist of three to ten monosaccharide molecules joined together. Examples include fructooligosaccharides (FOS) and galactooligosaccharides (GOS).
- Polysaccharides: These are complex sugars that consist of many monosaccharide molecules joined together. Examples include starch, glycogen, and cellulose.
If ingested in excess, all of these sugars have the potential to cause tooth decay and the buildup of plaque on teeth. Sugars that are added to foods and beverages during processing or preparation, or “added sugars,” are thought to be especially bad for oral health. This is due to the fact that they are frequently present in acidic foods and beverages like sweets, soda, and fruit juices that can adhere to teeth. Due to the steady supply of sugar that these foods and beverages give the bacteria in plaque, they can raise the risk of tooth decay.
Alternatively, naturally occurring sugars, such those in fruits and dairy products, are often accompanied by other nutrients, such as fiber and calcium, which can help protect teeth from decay. It is still important to consume these foods in moderation and to brush your teeth after eating them to help prevent plaque buildup.
A particular sort of bacterial film that develops on the surface of teeth and is linked to the emergence of tooth decay is known as a cariogenic biofilm. A biofilm is a particular kind of microbial community that develops when bacteria stick to a surface and create a sticky, protective covering; the term “cariogenic” means “able to cause tooth decay.”
Streptococcus mutans and Lactobacillus, two bacteria that can attack tooth enamel and cause tooth decay, are two of the bacteria that make up cariogenic biofilms. Even after brushing and flossing, these biofilms can develop on the surface of teeth within a few hours, and they can be challenging to get rid of without good oral hygiene practices.
The term “buffering capacity” describes a solution’s capacity to withstand pH shifts when an acid or basic is added. Many biological systems, including the mouth, have buffering capacity that is crucial for maintaining a relatively constant pH in the face of changes that may otherwise upset the balance of acid and base.
Saliva’s ability to function as a buffer in the mouth helps to counteract the acid that the bacteria in dental plaque produce and shield the teeth from tooth decay. Bicarbonate, phosphate, and proteins are just a few of the buffer systems found in saliva that can aid to keep the mouth’s pH at a neutral level.
Certain conditions, such as dry mouth, which can lower the amount of saliva available to neutralize acid in the mouth, can impair saliva’s ability to act as a buffer. This could make you more likely to develop tooth decay, particularly if your diet is strong in sugar or starch.
Shape of the Teeth:
The shape of the teeth can affect their function and their susceptibility to dental problems. Some tooth shapes are more prone to certain types of dental problems than others. For example:
- Flat or worn down teeth: Flat or worn down teeth can be more susceptible to tooth decay because they have less surface area to protect the underlying dentin.
- Pointed or sharp teeth: Pointed or sharp teeth can be more prone to tooth fractures and chips because they have a thin layer of enamel and are more prone to damage.
- Crowded or misaligned teeth: Crowded or misaligned teeth can be more difficult to clean properly, which can increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
- Deep grooves or pits: Deep grooves or pits on the surface of the teeth can trap food and bacteria, making them more prone to tooth decay.
Biofilm and Acid Byproducts:
As a consequence of the bacteria’s metabolic operations, biofilms can create acid. Communities of bacteria called biofilms attach to surfaces and create a sticky, protective covering. They can develop on many different surfaces, such as the outside of teeth, the surface of implants, and the outside of water pipes.
Acids are produced by the bacteria in plaque as a byproduct of metabolism. These acids have the potential to erode tooth enamel and cause tooth decay. Other chemicals that might irritate the gums and cause gum disease can also be produced by plaque.
Caries, also known as tooth decay or cavities, are a common oral health problem that occur when the enamel on the surface of the teeth is damaged by acid produced by bacteria in the mouth. Caries can cause pain, sensitivity, and even tooth loss if left untreated.
Since brushing alone cannot remove plaque and food particles from in between teeth and along the gumline, flossing is typically advised before brushing. Before using toothpaste and a toothbrush to more thoroughly clean the surface of the teeth and gums, floss first to get rid of these particles.
It is generally advised to floss at least once every day, ideally just before going to bed. Plaque and food fragments between teeth and along the gum line can be removed with flossing, reducing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
To remove plaque and food debris from between the teeth effectively, it’s crucial to adopt the right flossing method. The best way to floss is to wrap the floss around your index fingers and slide it gently back and forth between your teeth to remove plaque and food debris. To stop bacteria from spreading from one tooth to another, you should also use a fresh piece of floss for each tooth.
What Mouthwash is Best:
There are many different types of mouthwash available, and the best one for you may depend on your specific oral health needs. Here are some things to consider when selecting a mouthwash:
- Purpose: Different mouthwashes are formulated to address different oral health concerns. For example, some mouthwashes are designed to kill bacteria and reduce the risk of tooth decay and gum disease, while others are formulated to freshen breath or whiten teeth. Choose a mouthwash that addresses your specific oral health needs.
- Ingredients: Different mouthwashes contain different ingredients, and some may be more effective at addressing certain oral health concerns than others. For example, mouthwashes that contain fluoride can help to strengthen the teeth and prevent tooth decay, while those that contain hydrogen peroxide can help to whiten the teeth.
- Taste: Some mouthwashes have a strong, medicinal taste that can be unpleasant for some people. If you are sensitive to the taste of mouthwash, you may want to look for a product that has a more pleasant flavor.
- Alcohol content: Some mouthwashes contain alcohol, which can cause dry mouth and increase the risk of tooth decay. If you are concerned about the alcohol content of mouthwash, you may want to look for an alcohol-free product.
Always rinse your mouth out with water after brushing your teeth or using a mouthwash. Consult your dentist for the best solution for you.