Our mouths are full of bacteria. These bacteria, along with mucus and other particles, constantly form a sticky, colorless “plaque” on your teeth. Brushing and flossing help get rid of plaque. Plaque that is not removed can harden and form bacteria-harboring “tartar” that brushing doesn’t clean. Only a professional cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienists can remove tartar.

The longer plaque and tartar are on teeth, the more harmful they become. The bacteria causes inflammation of the gums that is called “gingivitis.” In gingivitis, the gums become red, swollen and can bleed easily. Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease that can usually be reversed with daily brushing and flossing, and regular cleaning by a dentist or hygienist. This form of gum disease does not include any loss of bone and tissue that hold teeth in place.

Germs in the mouth change the sugar in food to acid. The acid can eat a cavity in the tooth. The decay has to be cleaned out by drilling and then the tooth has to be filled. Of course, a healthy tooth is the best tooth. So it is important to prevent decay.

Sealants are thin, plastic coatings painted on the chewing surfaces of back teeth. Most tooth decay in children and teens occurs on these surfaces. Getting sealants put on is simple and painless. Sealants are painted on as a liquid and quickly harden to form a shield over the tooth.