Dental Disease Overview


©2007 Publications International, Ltd. Plaque gives shelter to oral bacteria, allowing them to feast on leftover food particles and generate enamel-decaying acids.

As unpleasant as it may sound, your mouth is a living swarm of bacteria and germs. Although a certain amount of bacteria is normal, excessive accumulations can destroy your teeth and periodontia (the teeth's support system).

The primary culprit is a sticky film called plaque. Plaque is a gelatinous substance that gives oral bacteria protection from the air (which can kill the germs). What's more, plaque pins the bacteria to your teeth, where they feast heartily on the leftover food particles in your mouth. They are especially fond of simple carbohydrates, such as refined sugar. Within a matter of hours, plaque bacteria can convert carbohydrates into enamel-decaying acids.

All forms of dental disease begin with plaque. For this reason, keeping this gummy substance under control is your first and most effective line of defense. 

If plaque is left undisturbed on your teeth for an extended period (anywhere from two days to two weeks), it can start to harden into a substance called tartar (or calculus, in dentist's terms). Since tartar bonds even more tenaciously to your teeth than plaque does, it has the potential to do more damage. Given the opportunity, tartar spreads in all directions, even down below the gum line. At the same time, plaque continues to form on top of the hardened material. The result is an all-out bacterial feeding frenzy, and the toxic by-products of this frenzy destroy your teeth and periodontia.

An accumulation of plaque leads to cavities, holes where the enamel of your teeth has been eaten away by bacteria. Keep reading to learn more about these destructive dental detriments.

Your teeth need lots of care and attention to ensure life-long good oral health. Visit the links below for more information about protecting and caring for your teeth.

  • Good oral hygine is important for oral health as well as overall health. In How Oral Hygiene Works, learn how to best take care of your pearly whites. 
  • Do you wish your teeth had just a bit more sparkle to them? How Tooth Whitening Works takes a look at procedures you can undergo to brighten and whiten your teeth.
  • When you have an ache in your teeth, getting rid of it is the only thought in your head. In How to Relieve a Tooth Ache, find out how to deal with dental distress.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.