When the build-up of plaque is left unchecked for greater than 24hrs, the negative effects on the teeth and gums can be widespread and long-term. Plaque forms on teeth when the carbohydrates from food is left on the teeth for a period of time. Bacteria that is present in the mouth will multiply and produce acid as a byproduct.  The acid that is present will cause the enamel of teeth to begin to break down resulting in tooth decay. Plaque can also affect the roots of teeth causing the decrease in the supporting bone of the teeth. This decrease in bony support will cause the teeth to become mobile and eventually, in severe cases, be lost.

There are very simple ways to help avoid plaque build up on teeth:

  1. Be sure to brush your teeth at least two times a day with a soft bristle toothbrush and toothpaste containing fluoride. Be sure to get in the area where the gums and teeth meet.
  2. Floss between the teeth and down to the gum area at least once a day. This helps to remove the food particles and plaque that are hard to get with a toothbrush alone.
  3. Have your regular cleanings with your dentist.
  4. Eat healthy foods and limit the sugary drinks and foods.
  5. Snack on healthier foods that help salvia neutralize acid causing plaque such as cheese and yogurt.

Plaque is a sticky white film on teeth that is made up of bacteria, food, and saliva that is constantly forming in your mouth on your teeth. The bacteria processes the sugars in food to create acid in your mouth. If the plaque is not removed on a regular basis by brushing and flossing, the build up can lead to decalcification(white spots), cavities, and gum disease. The chance of damaging the tooth enamel increases within a more acidic environment.  PH values indicate how acidic a solution is. The lower the pH level the more harmful the substance is for your teeth and the tooth enamel.

Brushing teeth at least twice a day helps to prevent this but also staying away from foods/drinks with a high acidity level can decrease this from occurring as well.

Here are some examples of pH levels in different items: (remember the lower the pH level-the more damaging it is:

  • Battery acid         1.0
  • Sour Skittles        1.5
  • Stomach acid       1.5
  • Laffy Taffy           2.5
  • Coca-Cola            2.6
  • PowerAde            2.6
  • Propel                 3.08
  • Apple Juice          3.75
  • A&W Root Beer    4.43
  • Pure Water          7.0-This is neutral pH level!!

If you want to drink a soft drink– drink through a straw, have with a meal, and brush your teeth right after. Limiting the time that the acidic soft drink is exposed to the teeth will help prevent the damage to the enamel.