Plaque is a substance that constantly forms in our mouths. Our oral bacteria feed on what we eat and drink, and plaque is a waste product of that process. Plaque can feel like something fuzzy covering your teeth, but is more or less invisible until it builds up. Removing plaque daily is an essential part of taking care of your oral health. Otherwise, it hardens in a matter of hours.
Do certain foods and habits increase plaque buildup? Yes, but knowing what they are helps you establish better oral hygiene sooner rather than later.
Different Foods and Habits That Increase Plaque Buildup
When left unchecked, plaque can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Unfortunately, certain foods and habits can increase plaque formation on teeth, but with a few lifestyle changes, you can halt the progression. Here’s what to avoid.
- Sugary and starchy foods. Foods high in sugars and starches fuel the growth of mouth bacteria, leading to more plaque formation. Sugary treats like candies, cookies, and sodas, as well as starchy foods like chips and crackers, can be particularly problematic.
- Highly acidic foods and drinks. Citrus fruits, fruit juices, and soft drinks can weaken the tooth enamel, making it more susceptible to plaque and bacteria.
- Frequent snacking. Snacking throughout the day, especially on sugary or starchy foods, provides a constant supply of food for oral bacteria, increasing the risk of plaque buildup.
- Tobacco use. Smoking or chewing tobacco contributes to gum disease and reduces saliva flow, increasing plaque buildup.
- Poor oral hygiene. Inadequate brushing and flossing allow plaque to accumulate on teeth and along the gumline.
- Not brushing or flossing properly. Even if you brush regularly, not using the proper technique or not flossing can leave plaque in hard-to-reach areas.
- Skipping dental check-ups. Regular dental check-ups and cleanings are essential for removing plaque and tartar that may have built up despite good oral hygiene practices.
How to Reduce Plaque Buildup
Fortunately, your good habits reduce plaque and create a healthy smile. So stick with the following:
- Brushing your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush.
- Flossing helps remove plaque and food particles between teeth and below the gumline, where a toothbrush can't reach.
- Reducing your intake of sugary and starchy snacks and opt for healthier options like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- Drinking plenty of water throughout the day, as it helps rinse away food particles and bacteria.
- Rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash can help reduce plaque and bacteria in your mouth.
- Chewing sugar-free gum can stimulate saliva production, which helps wash away plaque and neutralize acids in the mouth.
By adopting these habits and making smart food choices, you can significantly reduce plaque formation and promote a healthier smile.