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Your smile depends on healthy teeth and gums which come from your diligent efforts combined with professional dental cleanings to do what you cannot at home–removing tartar, or hardened plaque, off of your pearly whites and gum line.

Plaque can actually damage the strongest substance in the human body–your tooth enamel. Plaque could be said to be the Achilles’ heel of tooth enamel. The destructive powers of plaque are well known. This seemingly innocuous clear, sticky bacterial film coats the teeth, causing the enamel to erode.

But how does plaque do this? First, we start by looking in the mouth, which is home to colonies of bacteria. The bacteria feed on sugars from sugary, starchy, foods and drinks you consume every day. The bacteria then produce acids, which, unless you remove them daily by brushing and flossing will harden into tartar, or calculus. Unless you remove it while it is soft, once plaque hardens it will require removal with scaling instruments used by your dentist.

So let’s say plaque begins building up on your teeth. As the acids attack the enamel, the minerals in the enamel begin to diminish. Now, tiny holes can form in the enamel allowing bacteria and acid to reach the dentin, a more sensitive layer of tooth under the enamel. Under the dentin lies the pulp of the tooth, housing the blood vessels and nerves. Once bacteria reach the pulp, you will feel the effects, including pain when you bite down, tooth sensitivity or a persistent toothache.

To avoid plaque’s destructive effects, you can enlist the help of your dentist for periodic dental cleanings to remove tartar, and enlist the help of a good toothbrush, toothpaste, and dental floss for daily brushing and flossing to remove plaque while it is still soft. If it is time for your next cleaning with one of our dedicated dentists, Dr. Ronald A. Williams and Dr. Thomas J. Rydzon, please call our The Art of Dentistry team in Davison, Michigan at 810.653.3503 today. Your smile will thank you!