Plaque is a film on the teeth that is composed primarily of microorganisms. It is typically light yellow in color, although it becomes darker as the thickness of the plaque increases. Plaque is a natural occurrence but it can be harmful if allowed to accumulate. Untreated plaque allows the bacteria to attach to the teeth, leading to dental problems such as periodontitis and gingivitis. The methods of removing plaque can generally be divided into home and professional categories.
A dentist can also remove a typical build-up of plaque as part of the routine cleaning of your teeth, which is usually performed every six months. However, a deep teeth cleaning may be necessary for a more advanced accumulation of plaque. This procedure includes techniques such as scaling and root planing. Scaling scrapes plaque from the teeth and is effective above and below the gum line. Planing is the process of smoothing rough areas on the teeth that are produced by scaling. It also cleans infected areas of the gums, so the gums can reattach themselves to the roots of the teeth.
Severe cases of plaque build-up may require a more advanced procedure known as a full-mouth debridement. Regular teeth cleanings are by far the most cost effective method for preventing the accumulation of plaque. A deep cleaning costs much more than a regular cleaning, and a debridement is even more expensive.
The home methods of preventing the build up of plaque center on a regular routine of oral hygiene. This generally consists of brushing at least twice each day with a soft toothbrush. The best times to brush are immediately after the first and last meals of each day. It is often impractical to brush after lunch since most people are at work or school during this time.
A mixture of salt and baking soda is especially effective for removing plaque. This mixture is easy to prepare at home and many commercial tooth care products also contain salt and baking soda as active ingredients. You should also floss regularly to prevent the accumulation of plaque between your teeth. You may need to use a home scaler to remove stubborn plaque. A diet low in sugar will also help avoid plaque build up.