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Tooth enamel is the strongest substance in the human body, but it is also susceptible to decay. Plaque is the enemy, a clear, sticky bacterial film that coats the teeth and gum line. Bacteria in plaque reacts to acids from sugar in the mouth that erode tooth enamel, leading to tooth decay and gum disease.

So how exactly does this happen? First, the mouth is a virtual haven for bacterial colonies, which feed on the sugars in the food and drinks you take in daily, which reacts by producing acids, unless removed through brushing and flossing. Bear in mind, the easiest way to clear off plaque is while it is still soft. Once plaque hardens–and it can harden quickly–it turns into tartar which will need to be removed by your dentist using scaling tools designed for the job.

What happens when plaque builds up on your pearly whites? The acids begin to erode the minerals in your tooth enamel. These holes allow bacteria and acid to attack the sensitive layer of dentin which lies under the enamel. The dentin has tubules that lead to the tooth pulp.

As the attack continues, passing through the dentin to the tooth pulp which houses the blood vessels and nerves, you will start to experience symptoms, if you haven’t already. As the tooth pulp is affected, you can experience tooth sensitivity, pain when you bite down, or toothache. As your body fights the infection by sending white blood cells to the tooth, it may which create an abscess (pocket of pus) in the tooth. At this stage you will require dental intervention to repair the decay.

Don’t let plaque get the best of you; to avoid plaque’s destructive effects, brush and floss daily to clear the plaque while it is still soft. And visit your dentist twice a year for professional cleanings. To schedule a visit with our dedicated dentist, Dr. Kenneth Lewis, please call our Lewis Family Dentistry team in Fayetteville, North Carolina at (910) 488.0518 today. Your smile will thank you!