Sheridan Dentists Answer: Why is Dental Plaque Sticky?

If you’ve ever run your tongue over your teeth upon waking, or before you brush your teeth after a long day of interesting eating, then you are likely familiar with the feeling of dental plaque clinging to your teeth and gums. It is an unpleasant feeling, and worse, if left unattended, can lead to damaging oral health issues. While you may know the feeling of dental plaque, few people understand its formation and purpose, or why the substance is as sticky as it is. Since plaque is the starting point for tooth decay and gum disease, your Sheridan dentist, Dr. Coon, explains the sticky texture of dental plaque.

What is Dental Plaque?

One of the most important aspects to understanding dental plaque is knowing how it forms. At any given moment, your mouth plays host to over 600 different kinds of oral bacteria. Most are harmless, some are probably essential to the ecology of your mouth, and some are extremely detrimental to your oral health. Regardless of their function, these various bacteria gather together, realizing that, even on the microbial scale, there is greater strength in numbers. The accumulation of these germs leads to the formation of a sticky biofilm known as plaque.

Why is Plaque Sticky?

The key to plaque’s sticky texture lies in a specific bacterium called Treponema denticola, a key contributor to dental plaque. The germ produces a hyper-variable protein, much like those that your body’s immune system produces to stick to biological invaders. In the case of dental plaque, the sticky substance produced by T. denticola allows bacteria to stay together and adhere to the surfaces of your mouth.  The biofilm also protects oral bacteria from your body’s immune efforts, and the protein’s massive variability is perhaps plaque’s greatest survival strategy.

How Does Plaque Affect Your Oral Health?

Since plaque constantly and consistently forms in your oral cavity, maintaining proper oral hygiene is essential to controlling your mouth’s bacterial population. Brushing and flossing your teeth at least twice a day, in conjunction with attending your six-month dental checkups and cleanings, can help you limit the formation of bacterial plaque and inhibit its destructive power. To learn about protecting your oral health, schedule a consultation at Grinnell Street Dental by contacting our Sheridan dentist office at (307) 672-7567. We welcome patients from Sheridan, WY and the surrounding communities.

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