What Is Dental Plaque Made Of?

You’ve probably felt dental plaque before as you ran your tongue across your teeth and gums. It’s the sticky, uncomfortable substance that sometimes adheres to your oral tissue, usually when you haven’t brushed your teeth in a while. If you’ve ever visited your dentist, or witnessed toothpaste commercial, then you might know that plaque is bad for your teeth. Fewer people, however, can describe exactly what dental plaque is, how it forms, or why it’s one of the most dominant threats to your oral health.

Meet the Gang

If the dirty, sometimes fuzzy feeling of plaque doesn’t strengthen your resolve to keep your teeth cleaned, you might cringe to learn what hides underneath it. Plaque consists of a wide variety of oral bacteria, over 600 of which have been identified and classified. Most are harmless, but dental diseases like tooth decay and gum disease develop when the harmful ones accumulate.

For instance, Streptococcus mutans converts sugar and carbs into lactic acid, which erodes your tooth enamel and prevents it from recovering by sapping your teeth of essential minerals. Eventually, acid erosion causes your enamel to dissolve and allow bacteria access to the more vulnerable underlying tooth structure.

Porphyromonas gingivalis, another contributor to dental plaque, can manipulate your immune system’s inflammatory response to infectious microbes. The resulting inflamed gums are a telltale sign of gingivitis, which becomes gum disease as it advances.

Not-So-Happily Ever After

According to a plethora of growing research, the mechanisms that lead to dental diseases, mainly oral bacteria, have also been linked to significantly increased risks of systemic illnesses, including heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and complications during pregnancy. The oral-systemic relationship revolves mainly around the harmful processes of oral bacteria and their ability to invade your body through diseased oral tissues (like bleeding gums), wreaking similar havoc in other areas of the body. By allowing dental plaque and its microbial contents to run amok, your entire health can be in as much risk as your smile.

About Your Rochester Family Dentists:

Calcagno Family and Cosmetic Dentistry offer expert services including teeth whitening, Six Month Smiles, Invisalign, root canals, and pediatric dentistry. To schedule a consultation, please call (507) 218-8936. Dr. Calcagno and Dr. Heimer welcome and serve patients from Rochester, Red Wing, St. Charles, Winona, Farmington, Austin, and the surrounding communities.