Dental plaque often shows up as a fuzzy-like “blanket” on teeth and must be consistently removed to prevent the onset of oral health complications. Our Hudsonville, MI, dentists can assist you in cleaning plaque from your smile when you come in for a checkup, but also recommend that daily care be practiced at home. Here’s what you need to know about plaque, the consequences of leaving it alone, and how you can get rid of it on your own. Plaque: What It Is & Where It Occurs In short, plaque is bacteria buildup. It typically manifests as a soft, sticky film on your teeth largely caused by the combination of saliva, food, and fluids. The bacteria that makes up plaque produces acids every time you eat or drink something. If removed in a timely manner, plaque is manageable. When it’s left untreated, however, not so much. Aside from forming on your teeth, plaque also likes to collect near the gum line and under the gums on the tooth roots. When the latter happens, your smile is at risk. The best solution is generally to undergo the scaling and root planing procedure. This involves our dentists cleaning above and below the gum line to remove plaque. Symptoms of Excess Plaque The number one way you will be tipped off to plaque on teeth is the feeling. The aforementioned stickiness is hard to ignore and is more likely when you have gone a while without brushing or flossing your teeth. Maybe it’s 5 pm in the evening and you last brushed around 7:30 am. Eating and drinking throughout the day will bring about plaque. Additional signs that you may have a buildup of plaque include: \tChronic bad breath \tPale yellow color on teeth \tSwollen, tender, or red gums that bleed easily (may indicate gum disease) Though plaque can be a pale yellow as mentioned above, it can also be colorless. Of course, this can make it difficult to see unless you are one of our dentists who have access to small dental mirrors. When in doubt, brush and floss for clean results. What Happens If You Ignore Plaque Plaque does not have to stay on your teeth forever. It can and should be removed as soon as you’re able to limit the harmful effects. When plaque does sit around for a while and daily oral hygiene isn’t practiced properly, it turns into tartar which is a more hardened version. Not treating plaque in time can lead to: \tA gum infection or gum disease \tCavities \tTooth decay \tTooth loss \tAbscessed tooth/teeth Actions You Can Take Getting rid of plaque is easier when it’s just that, plaque. Once it hardens into tartar, you’ll need the help (and tools) of our hygienists. The main items you need to remove plaque at home include a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and a mouthwash. Our dentists recommend all patients brush their teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and floss once daily. Following those activities up with a mouthwash is a bonus. In addition to at-home oral care, we also encourage you to receive a professional teeth cleaning every 6 months in our Hudsonville dental office. Treat Your Smile Right Maintaining a healthy smile is within your power. Regularly brushing, flossing, and attending teeth cleanings from our dentists in Hudsonville, MI, all can keep plaque at bay. Call Hudsonville Dental today at (616) 209-4024 to schedule an appointment for you or a family member.