The average human mouth contains anywhere between 34 to 72 species of bacteria. While most of these microorganisms benefit your oral health in some way, a few of them can cause tooth decay as well as gum disease if you allow them to spread out of control. However, removing these bacteria before they damage your teeth and gums is easy. After all, you can see and feel them by looking in the mirror or by running your tongue over your teeth.
When bacteria build up, they form what is called plaque on the surface of your teeth. Plaque is an almost invisible bio film with a yellow tint to it and is essentially a colony of microorganisms. According to dental researcher Sigmund Socransky, each tooth surface of a person who doesn't brush enough could be home to 100 million to 1 billion bacteria.
But what happens when plaque isn't removed from teeth?
Plaque Hardens into Tartar
People with good oral hygiene remove this soft microbial bio film each morning when they wake up and each night before bed through brushing and flossing. However, those who don't brush or floss enough, or who often skip brushing for one or more days, will soon develop what is called tartar. Tartar, also known as calculus, is a hard layer that forms on teeth and under gums when plaque is left on teeth.
It usually takes about 48 hours for plaque to begin to harden into tartar, and then about 10 days for it to fully harden. Two of the most common places for tartar to build up are between your back teeth and on the backs of your lower central incisors due to the difficulty involved with cleaning those areas.
The hardening process is akin to the creation of concrete. The plaque on your teeth absorbs minerals such as calcium and phosphorous from your saliva before hardening.
Tartar Causes Tooth Decay and Gum Disease
Once tartar forms on your teeth, the bacteria within will continue to produce acids as they feast on the sugars and carbohydrates you eat. This acid will steadily eat away at the surface of your teeth and lead to cavities. Furthermore, the surface of tartar is sticky and thus creates the ideal surface for dental plaque to cling to. This can create even more tartar, which may then spread below your gums to create pockets of bacteria. These bacteria may then affect your periodontal ligaments and the bone that hold your teeth in place, and eventually, if left untreated, you may lose those teeth.
To prevent tartar from building up on your teeth, brush and floss at least twice a day. If you notice tartar on your teeth, book a dental cleaning as soon as possible to ensure that you don't develop cavities, or worse, gum disease. If your teeth do succumb to a lot of damage and you're concerned about the look of your smile, look into cosmetic dentistry procedures.
When you are pregnant it's important not just to eat more than you have been eating previously but also that you are eating the right types of food to make sure that you and the baby stay healthy. Having a healthy diet and not eating the wrong foods can help to keep you feeling comfortable and happy throughout your pregnancy and ensure the best outcomes for you and the baby. This blog has some nutrition advice from parents and health professionals so that you can have a healthy diet throughout you pregnancy journey and includes details on where to get specific advice if you need more help.