Controlling plaque

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Updated: 1/14/2003 1:29 pm Published: 1/14/2003 1:29 pm

Plaque, the sticky film of material that grows on and around your teeth, is the primary cause of tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss in adults. Many of the foods you eat cause the bacteria in your mouth to produce acids which then cause plaque to build up on your teeth. In addition, plaque produces substances that irritate your gums and make them red, tender, or bleed easily. After a while your gums can pull away from your teeth allowing pockets of bacteria and pus to form. If your gums are not treated properly, teeth can be destroyed. Brushing and flossing your teeth and eating a well-balanced diet are the best preventive measures that you can take on a daily basis. Also, to reduce acid formation, try not to snack between meals if you are unable to brush immediately. Chewing gum may be helpful; however, it should not be used in place of brushing or flossing. Visiting your dentist and getting a professional cleaning on a regular basis is extremely important to halt the spread of decay. Your dentist will instruct you in the proper way to brush your teeth including at what angle your toothbrush should be held. Also, as there are many toothpaste brands with different ingredients and different purposes, your dentist can recommend which to use. Remember, good daily oral hygiene is the best prevention of plaque buildup and other dental problems.

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