Your dentist has probably told you about plaque, the sticky film that occurs naturally on your teeth. As plaque hardens on your teeth near the lining of your gums, it becomes tartar. A buildup of tartar can lead to serious gum disease.
How do you know you have plaque? It’s difficult to see. You can stain it by chewing red “disclosing tablets,” found at grocery or drug stores. Or you can smear green food coloring on your teeth with a cotton swab. The coloring will show you where there is still plaque.
You can also work to prevent plaque in the first place by practicing these good oral health habits:
- Floss daily. Use floss to remove germs and food particles between teeth. Rinse. And be gentle-snapping the floss between teeth can harm your gums.
- Brush your teeth twice a day. Use small circular and short back-and-forth motions with your toothbrush. Use fluoride toothpaste to help protect your teeth from decay.
- Use a dental pick. You can buy these thin plastic or wooden sticks from grocery stores. Gently insert them between teeth to help remove plaque.
- Eat a balanced diet.
- Don’t smoke.
Remember: Food residue, especially sweets, provide nutrients for the germs that cause tooth decay, as well as those that cause gum disease. That’s why it’s important to remove all food residue, as well as plaque, from your teeth. Read more about what foods are good and bad for your teeth.