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You’ve probably heard about plaque before–especially if you’ve ever visited a dentist–but do actually know what it is? Do you know what you can do to keep plaque at bay, stop it from forming, and the effect plaque can actually have on your smile?

Plaque is a soft substance that builds up on your teeth. Plaque typically forms when there’s an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in your mouth. If there’s more bad bacteria in your mouth than good, plaque can actually grow faster. The process is also accelerated if you don’t brush and floss consistently, or if you have an unbalanced diet. If you don’t remove plaque from your smile, it will harden into tartar, leaving your teeth more vulnerable to cavities and gum disease.

Plaque will typically harden into tartar after approximately 24 hours, which is another reason you should consider brushing twice a day. Tartar is extremely difficult to remove. In fact, once plaque has hardened into tartar, you’ll need to visit a dentist to have it removed—or you could accidentally damage your teeth. If you don’t remove tartar, you could find yourself more susceptible to periodontitis.

The best way to avoid problems with plaque is to remove it, and then to avoid plaque buildup thereafter. To stop plaque buildup, we recommend brushing and flossing every day and including crispy foods like apples, carrots, and celery in your diet. Foods like these will naturally help clean your smile.

Finally, please remember to schedule regular checkups with our dentist, Dr. Ira J. Dolnick. We’ll be happy to examine the health of your teeth and gums and offer you personalized advice. If you’re interested in learning more, or would like to schedule an appointment, please don’t hesitate to contact Dolnick and Associates at (847) 378-1644. We’re eager to hear from you.