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Plaque is formed by bacteria on teeth. It is very noticeable when we do not brush our teeth and forms a colorless, sticky film on teeth enamel.
Plaque is not confined only to enamel but can also form on the roots and gums and this results in more serious problems like destruction of surrounding bones that support our teeth.
Plaque is caused when we do not clean teeth especially after eating foods rich in starch and sugar such as milk, candy, soft drinks, cakes, raisins etc.
Bacteria found in the mouth eat these foods and produce acids that destroy teeth enamel causing tooth decay.
It is also caused when we do not adopt proper methods of oral hygiene.
This includes brushing teeth twice daily for at least two minutes and flossing at night. Most people do not floss.
Flossing is very important to remove food particles that get stuck between teeth and where a toothbrush cannot reach. Most people do not realize its importance.
If you live in areas where there is no fluoride in the water, then ensure that you use toothpaste that contains fluoride.
Those who do not visit a dentist regularly can also end up with an excess plaque and tartar formation. Regular cleaning by the dentist is essential to prevent tooth decay and ensure overall oral health.
Plaque forms very quickly – within 20 minutes of eating. When it is not removed periodically, it hardens to form tartar.
Both plaque and tartar can cause various dental problems like cavities, gingivitis, periodontitis, abscess in teeth and bad breath.
It can also cause more severe health problems like heart disease or preterm labor in pregnant women.
Home Remedies For The Removal Of Plaque From Teeth
These days there are many options available to prevent the formation of plaque and tartar and to whiten teeth.
While professional cleaning systems by a dentist is still the best and most effective way to remove plaque, there are several home remedies that can maintain healthy teeth.
These are effective and less costly options.
Many of these natural whitening methods have been handed down from one generation to the next. One popular method is to use baking soda. It contains abrasives that can remove plaque.
First, remove excess saliva from teeth with a cotton swab. Then mix a few drops of fresh lemon juice with little baking soda and brush with this.
Leave it for one minute and then brush off gently and rinse thoroughly.
Certain fruits contain natural bleaching agents that can whiten teeth and remove surface plaque. Strawberries contain vitamin C and astringent that can remove stains while vitamin C is quite effective against plaque.
Apples act like crunchy toothbrushes and chewing on them not only removes food and bacteria from between teeth but also cleans surface stains.
Malic acid in apples can dissolve stains. Raisins help to increase saliva production, therefore, rinsing off plaque.
Orange peels can be rubbed on teeth at night for it can fight plaque-causing bacteria.
Spicy food is said to generate more saliva and this can naturally wash away bacteria in teeth.
Chewing sesame seeds and then brushing later, rubbing tomatoes on teeth are other ways to reduce plaque buildup.
Dental floss is a good home remedy to remove plaque formed between teeth and over the gum line. Gently pass the floss between teeth back and forth and curve it like a ‘C’ when it reaches the gum
. Your dentist can teach you the right way to use dental floss most effectively to remove plaque.
Aged cheese like cheddar or Swiss cheese eaten (< 1oz) before a meal is said to neutralize plaque-forming acids. Raw peanuts have a similar effect of being a buffering agent.
Precautions while using home remedies
When using baking soda, ensure that it does not remain on teeth for more than one minute. Excess use can wear out enamel fast for it contains acids.
Some home remedies to remove plaque or to whiten teeth can actually damage teeth. Lemon juice contains citric acid and was advocated for many years but can actually lead to loss of calcium.
Strawberries contain ascorbic acid which if left too long on teeth can harm them.
So if you brush with them or eat them, remember to brush with toothpaste containing fluoride and floss immediately after.
Apples while healthy can also cause damage to teeth if left for too long due to malic acid present in them.
Methods to Prevent Plaque Formation
Plaque formation can be prevented or at least reduced by following some sensible preventive measures.
- It is a must that you brush twice daily at least. Use a brush that is the right size for your mouth and one that has rounded soft bristles. The brush should be able to reach the entire surface area of your mouth.
- Use toothpaste that contains fluoride.
- Floss twice daily.
- Visit a dentist once in six months at least to get complete teeth cleaning and to check your teeth for any sign of other oral problems.
- Eat well-balanced meals that are nutritious and contains plenty of fruits and vegetables. Limit the number of in-between snacks. If you must snack, choose healthier options to chips or cookies like cheese, raw vegetables, fruits or plain yoghurt. Raw vegetables like celery help to remove hidden food particles and generate saliva that reduces the effects of acids which cause plaque.
- Use a mouth rinse that contains antibacterial agents which can help prevent bacteria from thriving in your mouth.
- You must change your toothbrush regularly – every 3-4 months at least to ensure the bristles are not worn out.
Always consult your dentist if you plan on using any of these home remedies to remove plaque.
They can be temporary and not permanent solutions and periodic visits to the dentist are the best way to avoid plaque and tartar buildup.