teethThe definition of plaque is really very interesting as described by Wikipedia:

Dental plaque is a biofilm, usually a pale yellow that develops naturally on the teeth. Like any biofilm, dental plaque is formed by colonizing bacteria . . . It has been speculated that plaque forms part of the defense systems of the host by helping to prevent colonization of microorganisms that may be pathogenic.

It is not a huge leap to compare plaque to the Great Wall of China. The building of plaque never ceases and the Great Wall took centuries to build and it’s still not complete. The Great Wall was built to keep attackers out while at the same time keeping people in. The Great Wall of China can be seen from space; if you have a lot of plaque build-up, it can be seen pretty easily, too.

If we heed only Wikipedia’s definition above, one might wonder what is so bad about plaque.  The above definition is only a partial one and there are many more resources available online or at your local dental office that will point out the drawbacks of plaque. While building up its defenses the same material that protects erodes the enamel of the teeth.  Of course the erosion does not take place over night. And, neither will the “take down.”

Like the Great Wall, plaque is very formidable. Both will never be totally deconstructed however, the Great Wall is maintained and cleaned for its millions of visitors. Plaque helps protect against billions of visitors, too  (microorganisms). However, if you do not keep the plaque at bay (it occurs naturally, and can not be cleaned 100% away) it will destroy your teeth.

So, get into see your dentist, help them help you control plaque. Ask your dentist if the recommended twice-yearly cleaning is all you need, or, if there are other issues to deal with like periodontal disease or gingivitis.  Remember your dentist is the expert and they love helping people get the oral care they should have; it’s what they do!


Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Rob Boudon

dentist“My teeth are fine, they don’t hurt. . .a lot!” “I don’t need to go the dentist.” “Besides, even if I had the time, I know I don’t have the money.” “And, if I had both the time and the money, why would I pay somebody to hurt me, I’m not like that.” “I’m not afraid I simply… my teeth don’t hurt!”

Twenty years ago the above statements wouldn’t be surprising to most dentists. They’ve heard them all. What is surprising is that even today these same statements reverberate in the halls of toothdom . Today, even with sedation dentistry, smaller more precise dental instruments, and anesthesia, people are still reluctant to go a dentist.  Of course some of that reluctance stems from the FOC factor (fear of cost).  Today there is very little reason not to see a dentist. Of all the above misgivings, the FOC factor is probably the biggest. But, oral health is not something that should be sidelined due to misgivings – it’s that important.

Let’s address the elephant on this page. Fear of cost is very real for a lot of folks, though this country has the best health care on the planet – it’s also the most expensive. However, FOC brings up multiple silver linings. First, consider the ROI (return on investment). If you can have healthy, comfortable, good-looking teeth – what is that worth? Also, in terms of real cost, getting dental work done is really not that expensive. Lastly, if you need a big dental procedure done you can finance it. P.S. if you have to choose whether to finance a new car or oral care – this article isn’t for you.

Now that the FOC elephant is put back in its cage, let’s talk about the other “reasons” people don’t go to the dentist. Pain! At this point in our history dental pain is all but imaginary. Have you been to a dental office recently? The dental tools are microscopic (not really but they are very small). Some dentists even use lasers.  If smaller instruments aren’t enough, there is always anesthetic and if that’s not enough there is sedation and music (most dentists have digital music you can listen to while work is being done on your teeth).

What will hurt is if you keep putting of regular dental visits until the pain is unbearable. Dentists are doctors and like any doctor, they need to be seen regularly.  Take care of your teeth, so that they can take care of you!

Image Used under Creative Commons license. Photo Credit: Head In Hands by Craig Dennis.