Most of you have probably seen the various toothpaste commercials that talk about the need to remove plaque and tartar build-up from your teeth. And while that may be enough to convince you that plaque is a bad thing (and it is!), it may still leave you wondering what exactly is plaque?

Quite simply, plaque is a sticky, colourless film of bacteria that can build up on our teeth. The bacteria in plaque continue to grow by finding their nutritional needs from the foods that we eat and even our own saliva. In the process, they create an acidic compound that can erode the enamel of our teeth. That is how plaque contributes to tooth decay!

In the early stages, plaque tends not to be a hard substance. However, if it is not removed in a timely manner, it can harden into what is called tartar. Just because it has hardened does not make it less dangerous to our teeth. The bacteria that are active in plaque continue to be quite active in tartar. So you want to make sure you have tartar removed from your teeth as well.

To keep plaque and tartar build-up under control, you need to brush and floss regularly. It takes approximately two minutes of thorough brushing to remove as much plaque as possible. But you still need to floss! Even the best electric toothbrush cannot get at all the surface areas between the teeth. If you are not flossing, approximately 30% of the surface area of your teeth is not being cleaned!

Even with the most diligent oral health habits, you will still need regular visits with us at Rideau Dental Centre to prevent plaque and tartar buildup. A thorough cleaning by our professionals is vital to protect your teeth from decay.

And while perhaps you have been good at following these three vital steps to look after your oral health, maybe you are not so confident that your kids have been quite so diligent while they were away at college or university! As much as they are young adults and feel they can do a lot to fend for themselves, scheduling appointments with the dentist just may not fit into their priorities between studying and…socializing!

The good news is that many of them are back home now so you can take matters into your own hands! This is the time of year we recommend that parents take the initiative and book an appointment for their returning prodigal son or daughter! In fact, it is best to get them into our office as early in the summer as possible. That way, if plaque and tartar have caused some damage, we know we have time to deal with it before they leave for another academic year.

So if you are concerned that perhaps your own student may not have been as diligent in looking after their oral health as you would like, call us now to schedule an appointment. Because controlling plaque and tartar build-up by visiting the dentist is a healthy habit…and healthier habits lead to healthier lives.

Dr. Martin LaBoissonniere

Dental Surgeon