Plaque is a yellow, sticky substance that forms a film over the teeth. Often caused by poor hygiene habits, plaque can produce an acidic environment in the mouth, leading to the degradation of tooth enamel. Also, if plaque isn’t eliminated with proper brushing, flossing, rinsing, or regular visits to the family dentist for a professional cleaning, it could harden underneath the gum line and lead to gum disease, and, if left untreated, tooth loss could occur.
There are also many possible long-term health effects of plaque buildup, including:
- Heart Disease – When plaque hardens under the gum line due to irregular cleaning and dental checkups, it can lead to gum disease. This disease can produce inflammation, a key contributor to heart disease. Many researchers have shown that gum disease and heart disease are strongly linked, with each presenting a possible cause-and-effect relationship to one another.
- Diabetes – Plaque buildup can increase the risk for developing gingivitis and periodontitis, conditions that are characterized by painful, swollen, and bleeding gums. It is theorized that diabetes and gum disease have a bidirectional relationship, with many experts believing that both diseases are strongly correlated to each other. Considering that gum disease from long-term plaque buildup can lead to inflammation, a strong component in diabetes and insulin resistance, some researchers feel that proper oral health may pose some benefit toward protecting the body against type II diabetes later on in life.
- Dementia – Recent research is beginning to show a strong correlation between poor oral health and dementia. Scientists have yet to reach a conclusive statement as to the mechanisms behind this link; however, the correlation has been strong enough to warrant further research studies. Until then, most experts strongly urge patients to visit a family dentist on a regular basis as protective measures against cognitive decline.
If you are concerned with the possible long-term health risks associated with plaque or gum disease, or are currently suffering from plaque or tartar buildup, contact the office of Dr. Gregory Allen Kerbel at (972) 278-9901 today to schedule your visit.