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To keep your pearly whites healthy and strong, your smile relies on the care you give it every day to keep away plaque. Plaque—a clear, sticky film which ends up coating your teeth and gums wreaks havoc on tooth enamel. This is no easy feat, considering that tooth enamel is the strongest substance in the human body, even stronger than bone. So in effect, you can consider plaque as the kryptonite of tooth enamel. This seemingly innocuous sticky film coats the teeth, causing enamel to erode. Just how does plaque achieve this?

Bacterial acids – the first thing to remember is that the mouth is home to colonies of bacteria. These bacteria feed on the sugars released from the foods and drinks you ingest. Particularly, sugary, and starchy foods. Next, the bacteria create acids, allowing the plaque to harden into tartar, unless you remove it daily through brushing and flossing. Plaque while it is soft is easy to remove, but once it hardens your dentist will need to remove it using scaling instruments.

Advancing decay – as the acids attack the tooth, the enamel loses minerals. This allows tiny holes to form in the enamel allowing bacteria and acid to reach the dentin. The dentin is the sensitive layer of tooth under the enamel (sensitive because it contains tubules that lead to the nerves in the tooth pulp). And beneath the dentin lies the pulp of the tooth which is home to blood vessels and nerves. Once bacteria reach the pulp, you will know. You will likely feel pain when you bite down, have tooth sensitivity or a persistent toothache. And if the tooth is not treated, your body will fight the infection by creating an abscess (a pocket of pus in the pulp).

To prevent plaque buildup on your pearly whites, let your dentist help with periodic dental cleanings to remove tartar, and you can serve on the front line of daily defense with meticulous brushing and flossing. Make sure your toothbrush bristles are not frayed, use a fluoride toothpaste if necessary, and dental floss to remove plaque while it is still soft. These are all tools to help you prevail over tooth decay!

If it is time for your next cleaning with Dr. Bennett R. Shanker, please call our Shanker Dental team in Bridgeton, New Jersey at 856-455-1183 today. Your smile will thank you.