Fighting the Plaque Monster

It attacks your teeth. It can be hard to get rid of. It’s invisible. It may sound like the star of the latest monster movie, but plaque is actually a completely normal problem that affects everyone.

Plaque is a naturally occurring film of sticky bacteria that covers the surface of your teeth. When sugars or starches in your mouth come in contact with plaque, the bacteria produce acids that can attack your teeth for more than 20 minutes after you’ve finished eating. Over time, these attacks will break down tooth enamel, promoting decay. If not removed, plaque can harden into tartar and eventually lead to gum disease.

Don’t worry, though – there are ways to fight the evil plaque monster. Brushing and flossing away plaque twice daily is a good start, of course, and fluoridated toothpaste also helps protect teeth from decay. Not sure if you’ve removed all of the plaque? Chewable tablets are available that will tint the existing plaque in your mouth, making it much more visible and therefore easier to target when brushing and flossing. Smearing a little food coloring on teeth with a cotton swab will work the same way.

Some foods naturally combat plaque with their nutrients or by stimulating saliva flow, so grab some cheese, milk, plain yogurt, green or black tea or sugar-free chewing gum to help fight off buildup.

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