Dental plaque is a sticky layer of bacteria that feeds off of sugars from food and drinks, producing harmful acids in the process. Proper dental care is an effective way to minimize plaque, which, if left untreated, can cause major oral damage and lead to lasting health problems. Here’s a look at some of the dangers of untreated plaque to teeth, gums, and overall health.
Weakened Enamel and Tooth Decay
Brushing at least twice daily, flossing at least once daily, and having regular dental cleanings are all important lines of defense against the buildup of plaque and tartar, a harder and more dangerous form of plaque. Inadequate brushing and flossing habits allow plaque and the acids it produces to flourish on the surface of teeth. Over time, these acids wear away at enamel, making teeth more vulnerable to the bacteria that cause tooth decay and cavities.
Gum and Periodontal Disease
In addition to damaging tooth enamel, uncontrolled plaque can also lead to inflammation along the gumline, gum disease, and periodontal disease. Gum disease generally begins as gingivitis, when the gums become tender, red, swollen, and more prone to bleeding. If plaque and tartar along the gumline aren’t addressed, gingivitis can quickly worsen into periodontitis, when bacteria begin attacking underlying bone structures and ligaments.
Other Health Problems
Although further research is needed, scientists have in recent years discovered links between untreated periodontal disease and other major health problems throughout the body. Heart disease, dementia, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and premature births are all more common in patients with gum and periodontal disease. These links can likely be traced to oral bacteria entering the bloodstream and harming other parts of the body, or to inflammation spreading from the gums to important organs and bodily structures.
Maintaining healthy brushing and flossing habits and receiving professional dental care often are some of the best ways to help protect teeth, gums, and other areas of the body from the dangers of plaque and tartar buildup. At Storts Family Dentistry, our team provides a full range of dental services to patients throughout southern Oklahoma, including cleanings, root canals, and emergency dental care. To schedule an appointment, call us today at 580-223-6720. Periodontal disease prevention tips for you.