A Plaque Primer

October 25, 2021

Child at the dentist

If your little one is familiar with the tale of Brushalot, they already know all about Prince Plaque and his daily attacks on the Pearly White City. 

But how much does your child really know about plaque itself, the sticky, slimy, germ-filled substance that causes tooth decay?

If the answer is “not much,” your little one isn’t alone.

In fact, many adults don’t know the full story when it comes to plaque!

Never fear! The Brushalot team is here.

To help you talk to your little one about plaque – or to help you better understand plaque yourself – we’ve prepared a brief primer. 

What is plaque?

In a nutshell, plaque is sticky bacteria that forms on teeth. The bacteria caused by plaque generates acids that cause tooth decay and gum disease.

Plaque can also build up on or under the gums, which is particularly dangerous because it can damage the bones that support teeth. 

Having plaque doesn’t necessarily mean you or your child has bad oral hygiene. In fact, everyone has plaque to some degree. Problems arise when too much plaque is generated and when it’s allowed to rest on the teeth and gums for too long. That’s why brushing and flossing are so important!

What causes plaque?

When plaque is on the attack, sugary and starchy foods are the most common culprit.

Juice, soft drinks, bread, pasta, and fruit all release acids that can cause tooth decay. Even milk, a key part of a healthy diet for most people, can cause plaque to build up.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you should avoid all foods and beverages that cause plaque. That would be impossible – and very unhealthy.

Rather, brush and floss about 30 minutes after consuming plaque-heavy food or beverages.

What happens if plaque isn’t addressed?

When plaque is left to harden, it turns into tartar, which can only be removed by a dental professional. 

It’s plaque and tartar that cause some of the most common (and serious) dental problems including cavities, gum disease, tooth decay, and tooth and gum infection. 

How can I prevent plaque?

The single best way to prevent plaque build-up is to brush and floss daily. Some people, especially kids, are tempted to skip flossing. 

This is a big mistake, as oftentimes plaque can build up in the crevices between teeth – areas where a toothbrush can’t effectively reach. Flossing is the only way to rid your teeth of plaque in the hardest-to-reach places!

You can also prevent plaque build-up by choosing foods and beverages that aren’t rich in sugar or starch, like cheese, raw vegetables, and yogurt! 


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