Fighting back against plaque. How can I prevent plaque-associated gum disease?

Oral hygiene home care

  • To prevent plaque build-up, brush your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes with a soft, rounded-tip bristled toothbrush or an electric or battery operated tooth brush. Use a fluoride toothpaste to remove plaque from tooth surfaces and protect your teeth from decay and gum disease.
  • Clean between teeth daily (preferably before bedtime and after eating breakfast) with floss or an interdental brush to remove plaque from the places where your toothbrush cannot reach. Flossing is essential for preventing gum disease.
  • Eating a healthy balanced diet and limiting between-meal snacks is important.
  • Visiting your dentist/dental hygienist more regularly, at least once a year for professional cleaning and an oral exam (check up) is also very important.


Plaque is a soft, sticky film that builds up on teeth and contains millions of bacteria, some of which are associated with developing gum disease. Plaque that is not removed daily by brushing and flossing between teeth can eventually harden into tartar/calculus.


Tartar (also known as calculus) is yellow in colour and generally can only be removed by either a dentist or dental hygienist using specialist instruments.


Gingivitis is the inflammation of gum tissue.

Signs of gingivitis are

  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Swollen gums
  • Bright red or purple gums
  • Gums that are tender or painful to the touch
  • Bleeding gums or bleeding after brushing and/or flossing


Untreated gingivitis can advance to periodontitis. Periodontitis is a serious gum infection that destroys the soft tissue and bone that support your teeth. The gum separates from the teeth, forming pockets (spaces between the teeth and gums) that become infected; as periodontal pockets deepen (space between tooth and gum) more gum tissue and bone are destroyed. Eventually, teeth can become loose and can fall out or have to be extracted.

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