On the surface of all your teeth there is actually a gigantic, harmless biosphere of different bacteria called a biofilm, or plaque. This biofilm is a diverse habitat of bacteria colonies, which are attracted to the smooth surface of the teeth. In contrast to virtually all other parts of the body, teeth do not shed to replace their cells, only shedding once as baby teeth. Around 25,000 bacteria species may be present in the biofilm; it is speculated that the body allows plaque to build as a way of stopping large amounts of dangerous bacteria from building up on the same surface.
However, this biofilm does not stay harmless for very long. In the beginning, the biofilm is soft enough to scrape or brush off, but after around 10 days sitting on the teeth, plaque becomes calculus, or tartar. Tartar is solid and hard to remove, and while plaque and tartar are on the teeth, different processes and reactions created by the bacteria result in acid that may cause cavities. Tooth decay is the primary danger of plaque and tartar sitting on the teeth.
Saliva is an ideal environment for bacterial growth, acting as a pH buffer and keeping the pH around 7. Nutrients are also present in saliva, giving the bacteria food. To help prevent cavities and the damage from plaque buildup, brushing your teeth is essential- saliva cannot penetrate the surface of the biofilm to reduce the acidity.
The following is a simple list of oral hygiene methods to reduce acid buildup, plaque, tartar, and cavities:
Regular tooth cleanings and checkups will remove tartar and plaque buildup on a level more than you can at home. Receiving a dentist’s cleaning two times a year is recommended for sufficient removal of built up tartar. Recieving a fluoride treatment is a common dental treatment that will help strengthen your teeth.
Whether you think you have a cavity or want to ask about teeth cleanings, call Dr. Angela E. Mulrooney at 403-272-0616 today to schedule an appointment.
Dr. Angela E. Mulrooney
700 – 2710 17 Avenue S.E.
Calgary, AB T2A 0P6