Left untreated, plaque hardens into tartar. Both cause forms of gum disease, avoided by good oral hygiene says Cherry Hill dentist Barry Polansky DMD.
Plaque is the sticky film that covers tooth surfaces and collects at the gumline. When missed, even with flossing and brushing each day, this biofilm becomes hard tartar which must be removed with a professional cleaning. Cherry Hill dentist, Barry Polansky DMD, says don’t ignore plaque and tartar because both encourage gum disease–a major cause of tooth loss in the United States today.
Where does plaque come from?
Plaque comes from what we eat–in particular, carbohydrates and sugars. While a healthy diet reduces plaque formation, biofilm is truly unavoidable. Plus, it harbors deleterious oral bacteria. These germs secrete acids which cause tooth decay and gum disease.
When plaque is left to its own devices for too long, tartar forms. This yellow, rock-hard substance pushes gum tissue away from tooth and root surfaces, infects gums and gradually causes tooth mobility. Additionally, the bacteria in tartar, combined with the inflammation it causes, adversely affects systemic health, contributing to:
- rheumatoid arthritis
- heart attack
- hardening of the arteries
- pregnancy complications
- low birth weight infants
- heart valve disease
Do your gums bleed?
If they do, this is the start of gum disease, or gingivitis. Daily flossing, twice daily brushing and semi-annual cleanings with Dr. Polansky’s hygiene team can reverse gingivitis and its:
- reddened gum tissue
- bad breath
- bad taste in the mouth
Tartar, however, must be removed by a professional cleaning. It’s truly the only way to treat gums that are:
- pulling away from the teeth, developing measurable pockets
Tartar leads to periodontitis, the most serious form of gum disease. Periodontitis causes teeth to loosen and even to fall out. How teeth bite together and are positioned in the jaw shifts, too.
How are plaque and tartar best treated?
Again, regular brushing, flossing and cleanings are the best weapons in the fight against gum disease. Sometimes, though, condition gets out of control through:
- tobacco use
- poor brushing and flossing habits
- lack of professional dental care
- poorly controlled diabetes
- use of certain prescription medications
- poorly aligned teeth that are difficult to keep clean
- a compromised immune system
- hereditary tendency toward gum disease
Whatever the cause of periodontitis, there is hope. Many dentists offer traditional manual scaling of teeth to remove plaque and tartar and also root planing to smooth root surfaces so gums successfully re-attach to teeth. Antimicrobial medication instilled at the gumline eliminates infection.
A new hope: laser gum treatment
Cherry Hill family dentist, Barry Polansky DMD, offers an innovative gum disease treatment called LANAP: Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure. This procedure utilizes focused light beams to debride and disinfect diseased gums. It takes 2 2-hour painless treatment, and no stitches are necessary. Gums re-attach, and oral health improves.