Let’s get straight to the question we pose in the title of this month’s blog post: What happens when plaque makes its way under your gums? Nothing good is the short answer.
It’s also a problem that the team here at Willow Glen Dental Specialists can easily address, and the sooner the better.
While you may have learned about plaque when you were younger, this is one subject that’s good to revisit from time to time, since plaque is Enemy Number One when it comes to your dental health.
What is plaque?
It’s been a few hours since you’ve brushed or rinsed your teeth and there’s a film that covers your teeth — that’s plaque.
This sticky substance is made up of three things:
- Food particles
Having plaque in your mouth is perfectly normal as both bacteria and saliva play vital roles in pre-digesting the foods you eat. If you favor high-carbohydrate foods, including the simple sugars that bacteria love, plaque can be abundant in your mouth.
Whether a lot or a little, if you have a good dental regimen, you should be able to stay on top of plaque, clearing it away before it builds up too much, at which point it can mineralize and turn into tartar. Even then, your twice annual cleanings with us are great opportunities to clear out tartar and plaque from those hard-to-reach places.
When plaque becomes problematic
One of the goals in staying on top of plaque is to prevent it from getting under your gums. These soft tissues form a seal that’s designed to protect the roots of your teeth from, you guessed it, plaque and harmful bacteria.
If plaque starts to overrun your mouth and you’re not clearing it away fast enough, the bacteria can make their way under your gumline where they set up shop and continue to wreak havoc on your gums and teeth.
When bacteria are at your gumline, this is the first stage of gum disease, which is called gingivitis. When they make their way under your gums and create pockets between your gums and teeth, you’ve got full blown periodontal disease, which affects nearly half of adults aged 30 and older in the United States..
Clearing plaque from your gums
Once plaque gets under your gums, it’s impossible for you to address, so you need to come see us. We can perform a deep cleaning, which is also called a scaling and root planing procedure. During scaling and root planing, we address your gums to:
- Clear away the plaque buildup
- Eliminate the pockets
- Smooth the surface of your teeth so your gums can reattach themselves
This procedure is very effective in the first stages of gum disease. If, however, you wait too long, we may have to resort to gum surgery or osseous surgery to preserve your teeth and gums.
So, to sum this up, plaque under your gums can lead to trouble, so we urge you to keep brushing, flossing, and seeing us for regular cleanings to help prevent this from happening.
If you have more questions about gum disease, feel free to contact our office in San Jose, California, by calling 408-478-9081, or you can book an appointment with us online.