When you visit your dentist for a check-up or cleaning, he or she will thoroughly examine your teeth and gums to identify and address any existing or potential problems. But of all the issues your dentist will be on the lookout for, one stands head-and-shoulders above all others: plaque buildup.
Plaque is oral health enemy number one, and the longer the time between scheduled dental appointments, the more plaque can accumulate in your mouth. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take at home – beyond brushing and flossing – that can keep plaque buildup at bay until your next cleaning.
Why Removing Plaque is So Important
Plaque is the sticky and colorless film that forms over the surface of teeth. It is formed primarily by trapped and hard to remove food particles, especially carbohydrates like sugar and starches. The problem is bacteria love plaque; they feed on plaque buildup. More plaque inevitably causes more bacteria to fester. In turn, that bacteria produce acid that eats away at tooth enamel and causes tooth decay. Eventually, bacteria may eventually seep into the gums, spreading tooth decay to the root of the tooth and causing gum disease.
Ways to Remove Plaque at Home
Brushing and flossing alone aren’t always enough to remove hard to reach food particles. But here are five ways you can remove plaque in between dental visits:
- Orange peels. Rubbing an orange peel directly on your teeth can fight plaque-building microorganisms on your enamel.
- Baking soda. There is a reason many toothpastes contain baking soda: its mild abrasiveness helps pry unwanted substances like food particles off the surface of teeth. Put one tablespoon of baking soda into a small glass, add a dash of salt, and dip your toothbrush into the mix, then brush and rinse as you normally would.
- Eat figs. Figs, of all things, are a force to be reckoned with when it comes to fighting bacteria in your mouth. Slowly chew three or four figs at once, trying to move them around your teeth and gums as much as possible. Figs jumpstart saliva production, and saliva is key to dislodging bacteria-causing food particles from the surface and gaps between your teeth.
- Spice it up. Like figs, spicy food gets your saliva going which in turn helps get those food particles up and off your teeth.
- Gargle with vinegar. Vinegar, like baking soda, is something of a wonder cleaner that won’t harm your teeth but is extremely effective at cleaning them (though it may not be the best tasting). Every two to three days, gargle with a solution consisting of two tablespoons of vinegar, one tablespoon of salt, and four ounces of water.
While these practices will help keep plaque under control, bacteria can still develop in your mouth. Regular visits to your dentist for cleaning can more thoroughly eliminate plaque, significantly reducing your risk of serious oral health problems.
At Assure A Smile, we partner with our patients to help them develop healthy, natural, and effective oral hygiene habits as part of an overall wellness strategy and holistic healthcare approach. To learn more about the importance of holistic dentistry and how to develop healthier habits for a better you, please contact us today at 305-274-0047.