What is Plaque?

Plaque is the accumulation of bacteria, microorganisms and their products which sticks to the tooth surfaces. Dental plaque is soft and easily removed by brushing and flossing the teeth. Accumulation of plaque can lead to gum disease (gingivitis), periodontal disease and tooth decay. 

What is Calculus (Tartar)?
Calculus is dental plaque that has mineralized. Calculus can form when plaque is not removed from the tooth surfaces. Calculus can form above or below the gum line. The bacteria that stick to calculus can cause gum disease (gingivitis) or periodontal disease. Calculus cannot be removed by brushing and flossing. A dentist checks for calculus formation when you visit the dental office. It is removed with special instruments designed to adapt to the tooth surface affected without causing trauma to the soft gum. 

What is gingivitis?
Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums. Some common features associated with gingivitis are red and swollen gums and the presence of bleeding while brushing and flossing. The cause of gingivitis is the bacteria in dental plaque. This disease is reversible with good oral hygiene practices. 

What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease affects the periodontium ( the supporting structures of Gums, periodontal ligaments & bone around the tooth). The cause of this disease is multi-factorial but the presence of bacteria in plaque certainly plays a major role. The supporting periodontal structures begin to breakdown. This can mean that part of the bone that supports the teeth or the ligaments that hold the teeth securely in place are destroyed. This disease process is generally not reversible and may require treatment from a dental professional specializing in periodontal disease. Periodontal disease can develop as a result of poor daily plaque control (e.g. brushing and flossing) It is wise to visit your dentist regularly in order to detect early stages of the disease and to prevent further damage. 

What is a Cavity?
A cavity is the destruction of the tooth enamel, dentin, cementum and may involve the tooth pulp. 

How does a Cavity Form?
The formation of a cavity is due to many factors. For example, the tooth itself plays a role (how strong it is); the mouth’s ability to cleanse itself ( your flow of saliva); diet (frequency and selection of sugary foods); the bacteria in your mouth (good or bad) and the length of time the tooth is under attack by the bacteria in your mouth. 

Heredity might play a major role in how susceptible your are to the formation of a cavity 

Saliva: has a protective function in the mouth 

Diet: a well balanced diet from each of the four major food groups is essential for your oral health, as well as, your overall health 

Time: the actual amount of sugar eaten in one sitting is not as important as when and how often you choose a sugar containing food. 

Bacteria: the mouth harbors many types of bacteria that are considered to be normal in the human mouth 

Fluoride: fluoride provides many benefits. It is found in many products such as toothpaste, mouth rinse, fluoridated drinking water and periodic topical fluoride treatments applied by your dentist. 


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