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Plaque: the boogeyman of oral health. Always lying in wait for that opportunity to sneak in and make a mess– causing cavities and irritating your gums. Oral hygiene is largely about constant vigilance against plaque, but don’t let that intimidate you. It’s easy to beat plaque with Dugger Dentistry, your West Linn dentist.

Plague is a sticky mix of bacteria and the biofilm it secretes– this biofilm protects it while it destroys dental enamel with its acid. It may feel like “fuzz” on your teeth, but there’s nothing warm and fuzzy about it. Follow our simple steps to beat plaque, and your smile will thank you!

Step one: brush your teeth properly

We’ve been told to brush our teeth every day since before we could hold a toothbrush, but a surprising few of us actually know how– and for how long– toothbrushing should occur. Brushing your teeth should take at least two minutes and should be done twice a day. Use medium or soft bristle toothbrush and hold it at a 45 degree angle while moving it along your gum line. For more examples, follow the American Dental Association’s helpful tutorial.

Proper brushing is one of the most important steps in preventive care.

Step two: don’t leave anything out

Flossing daily is just as important as toothbrushing, but it’s a step that gets skipped a lot, unfortunately. The reason why flossing is so critical is that it cleans those hard-to-reach areas that a brush alone just simply cannot do. Perhaps more important, flossing focuses on your gum line, which is especially sensitive to plaque buildup. Gingivitis, a form of gum disease characterized by red, swollen gums and bleeding, results from gum irritation from plaque and its subsequent inflammatory response.

The inflammatory response from gum disease has been linked to other health problems– like cardiovascular problems. Flossing is so much easier!

Step three: let food be your medicine

There are two ways that food can help maintain oral health. The first is avoidance. It’s an unfortunate fact that sticky, sweet foods that taste delicious are also terrible for oral health. All sugars, including the carbohydrates in breads, are eligible to become bacteria food. When those sugars are sticky and cling to your teeth for hours, they are providing a bountiful harvest for hungry bacteria. Don’t give bacteria a feast– make it a famine!

The other way food can help oral health is that you can choose to eat foods that actively promote oral health. Crunchy fruits and vegetables clean your teeth and gums free of plaque naturally in addition to providing the vitamins and minerals your body needs for teeth and gum health.

Step four: Consider a rinse

An antiseptic mouth rinse could be an invaluable tool to incorporate into your twice-daily oral hygiene routine. Find one with fluoride, which helps remineralize damaged dental enamel as well as fight off bacteria. Rinse for at least 30 seconds after brushing to help boost your oral health and your body’s abilities to fight off plaque.

Be on the lookout, though: mouthwash is not the same as a mouth rinse. A mouthwash is only for freshening breath and usually has no additional health benefits. A mouth rinse has antibacterial properties and can significantly reduce caries-causing bacteria in your mouth.

Step five: Come see us!

The final step to beating plaque is regular preventive care at your West Linn dentist. The ADA recommends patients visit a dentist about every six months so that dental health professionals will be able to keep tabs on your oral health and catch any small changes– before they become big problems.

Schedule your appointment with Dugger Dentistry today, and together– we’ll beat plaque!

Photo Credit: rhea21685 via Compfight cc

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