When plaque attacks

Adrianna Mejia
When plaque attacks
Why plaque is the root cause of most of your oral health problems

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – In a country where more than 9 out of 10 Filipinos suffer from oral diseases, it is crucial to understand why our risk factor is so high.

The UP College of Dentistry Centennial Advocacy Committee Chair Carina Mabanta–Delos Reyes states that as of 2012, almost 30% (27.7%) of Filipinos are below the poverty line, with an annual income of less than P17, 000 (P16,841), and thus rendering regular visits to the dentist a low priority due to limited personal funds.

She also added that around 70% (66.8%) of Filipinos have not been to a dentist despite the fact that they suffer from dental problems, with 63% claiming financial reasons.

Oral diseases are easily preventable. However, the lack of information, ineffective oral health promotions and the inability to reach those who are completely unaware of preventive measures make dental caries, periodontal diseases and bad breath prevalent among Filipinos.

Learning about the cause

Plaque is a sticky colorless substance made of bacteria constantly forming on, around, and in between the surfaces of our teeth and gums. It may not be as easily noticeable as stray food particles, but you can feel it when the build up gets fuzzy and feels rough when it accumulates.

If left unattended by the proper brushing and flossing habits, plaque continues to accumulate and can cause a variety of oral health problems due to the bacteria and acids that attack your tooth enamel. After a few days, it calcifies and turns into a substance called tartar which is much harder, denser, and more difficult to remove.

But plaque can cause more harm than just making your teeth look unattractive. Here is a list of some of the oral health problems that are caused by plaque: 

Tooth decay is caused by residue plaque that attacks your tooth enamel and causes cavities, infection, and swelling.

Bad breath is caused by the bacteria and germs that have accumulated in your mouth from plaque buildup, thus causing your breath to stink.

Yellow teeth, a common insecurity and cause of embarrassment when we smile, is also caused by plaque build-up (although initially colorless). When calcified into tartar, this tends to appear yellow and cause discoloration.

Inflamed or bleeding gums can be caused by rigorous brushing. However tartar build-up due to the leftover plaque is also a main cause of bleeding and inflammation.

Maybe it’s your toothbrush

Although plaque is the number one enemy in maintaining good oral health, removing it is not just a matter of having the proper brushing and flossing techniques.

No matter how much you brush (and there is such a thing as over-brushing), traces of plaque can still be left in hard-to-reach areas. Have you considered that the problem may not be you but may actually be with your toothbrush?

Think of your toothbrush as a tool. You need to find the most effective one that removes all the excess plaque in your mouth.

A brush with angled, cross-action bristles that can effectively remove plaque in hard-to-reach areas (deep, in between, and behind teeth) may be the optimal solution.

Compared to flat toothbrushes, angled-bristles will optimize cleaning teeth as it has an increased contact with the surface of your teeth. As you can see on the image above, straight angled bristles don’t reach those tough places where plaque and bacteria thrive.

Take preventive measures to avoid constant visits to the dentist, tooth extractions and painful treatments that also hurt your wallet. Practice good oral hygiene and when you feel like you’re losing the battle with plaque build up, stop to consider, maybe the problem isn’t you, maybe it’s your toothbrush. – Rappler.com

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