Bacteria living inside your mouth set the stage for a never-ending battle against dental plaque. Left unchecked, bacteria can wreak havoc in your mouth, leading to plaque, tooth decay and an array of other problems. Although you can’t really see the bacteria, you can usually feel it. A slippery, slimy and sometimes grainy feeling on the surface of your teeth indicates bacteria are forming. Sometimes, you can notice it by running your tongue over your teeth. Pay special attention to the back molars and gums, where plaque often forms.
How bacteria form
The bacteria that naturally occur in your mouth grow stronger when you consume certain types of foods and beverages. Food particles combine with bacteria and saliva to form plaque. In the early stages, plaque is soft and easily removable. As time passes, plaque hardens and becomes impossible to remove with simple brushing. As plaque hardens, even more bacteria accumulate and can cause further damage to your teeth.
Bacteria and tooth decay
The bacteria in plaque produce acid that erodes teeth by damaging the outer enamel. Once the enamel is damaged, small holes begin to form, allowing even more acid and bacteria to enter the tooth. The end result is a tooth infection known as tooth decay, which is how cavities form. Left unchecked, decay progresses into the pulp of the tooth, where the nerves and blood vessels are housed. Decay entering this area can lead to inflammation and infection. At this stage, pain and sensitivity may also be noticeable, and root canal therapy or other treatments may be necessary to preserve the tooth.
There are certain things you can do to prevent plaque from ever becoming a major problem. Brushing and flossing are important, as are regular check-ups at our office. Symptoms such as tooth sensitivity, pain while eating hot or cold foods (or sweets), visible decay or damage and pain while chewing are all signs that require prompt attention. Before that ever happens, don’t let plaque get the best of you – or your teeth.
ABOUT YOUR SOUTHLAKE DENTISTS:
As a native Texan, Gregory Wright, DDS, opened his private practice in Southlake, TX in 1992. He and Dr. Victoria Heron are happily accepting new patients from Southlake, Grapevine, Keller, Trophy Club, Colleyville, and all surrounding communities. To learn more, call our office today at (817) 481-7999.