What is dental plaque? How does it affect your child’s oral health? How do you prevent the buildup of plaque?
What is dental plaque?
Dental plaque is a film or coating of bacteria that grows on the surfaces within the mouth. If plaque is not removed twice daily with proper brushing and flossing it becomes hard and appears brownish or yellow on the teeth, this is called tartar. Tartar needs to be removed by a dental professional, either a hygienist or dentist to prevent gum disease and decay.
How does plaque affect your child’s oral health?
Plaque and tartar can both cause problems for your child’s teeth. The bacteria in plaque eat the foods we eat and their waste product is acid. The acid weakens the enamel of the teeth and over time can lead to a cavity.
The long-term buildup of plaque and tartar can cause the gums to become inflamed or swollen and bleed when brushing or flossing. These are the early symptoms of gum disease or gingivitis. If left untreated gum disease can progress and result in the roots of the teeth being exposed or tooth loss.
How do you prevent the buildup of plaque?
First things first, help your child get into a routine of brushing and flossing as soon as their teeth erupt. Children like consistency and even if they resist brushing they need your help until they are 7-8 years of age. Try to make things fun! An electric toothbrush with a 2-minute timer can make it easier to brush and remove the plaque. There are many on the market with different cartoon characters that play music and sing your child to the 2-minute mark. There are brushing apps for your phone or tablet to entertain your child while brushing. Let your child help with the brushing process. Allow your child to have a turn and after they are finished you need to help them get the hard to reach places. Limit sugary foods and drinks as this is the plaques favorite food. Lastly, we encourage you to take your child to the dentist twice a year for cleanings and checkups. Regular preventative care will help aid in good oral health for your child as we can catch any potential problems as soon as possible.
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Updated: October 23, 2018