How does plaque cause tooth decay?

You may not realize it, but your mouth is teeming with bacteria. And  when you eat, they eat, too, gorging themselves on the food debris that's left on your teeth. Bacteria convert sugars and starches from food into acid. When acid combines with leftover food debris and  saliva, it forms a sticky substance called plaque.

Plaque gets stuck to your teeth, and if you don't brush it off, it will stay there, eventually dissolving the enamel that  protects your teeth, and eating away at the teeth themselves, leaving holes called cavities. Plaque also irritates your gums, weakening the connections that hold your teeth in place.

To avoid plaque buildup and tooth decay, limit consumption of sugary food, and get rid of plaque by brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing daily. If a tooth is causing you pain or discomfort, see your dentist. You may need to have a cavity filled.
Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria. When you do not remove plaque from your teeth daily, it builds up. Plaque bacteria use sugar to produce acids that attack enamel, the hard surface of the tooth. This acid attacks tooth enamel for up to 20 minutes after you eat or drink. When you have sugary foods or drinks many times a day or sip on the same sugary drink for long periods of time, the acid attacks your tooth enamel again and again. Repeated acid attacks cause tooth decay, which requires treatment by a dentist.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.