Posts for tag: plaque

By James Pechloff, DDS
October 09, 2017
Category: Oral Health
Tags: plaque   Gum Disease  

Here’s a sobering statistic: you have a 50/50 chance over your lifetime for developing periodontal (gum) disease. And it’s much more serious than irritated gums: if not treated aggressively you could experience bone loss, which can not only lead to tooth loss but actually increases your risk of heart attack and stroke.

Initially, you may not notice any symptoms unless you know what to look for: mainly red and puffy gums that frequently bleed during brushing and flossing. As the infection advances into the underlying support structures that hold teeth in place you may also notice receding gums (moving away from your teeth causing them to look longer), pus around the gums or lingering bad breath or taste. And one or more loose teeth are a definite sign the supporting structures have weakened severely.

So, how does gum disease happen? It starts with bacteria. Your mouth contains millions of these and other microorganisms, most of which are friendly and even beneficial. Unfortunately, a fraction of them can infect and harm tissues like the gums and underlying bone. Your mouth’s defenses can normally handle them if their numbers remain low. But a bacterial population explosion can quickly overwhelm those defenses.

Bacteria are like any other life form: they need a secure environment and food. Disease-causing bacteria establish the former by utilizing proteins and other components of saliva to form a sticky biofilm on teeth known as plaque. Within the safe haven of dental plaque bacteria quickly multiply and form a complex and concentrated ecosystem feeding on remnant food particles, especially sugar and other carbohydrates.

The key to gum disease prevention (as well as treatment) is to deprive bacteria of their home and food source by removing plaque and its more hardened form calculus (tartar). You can manage plaque buildup by brushing and flossing daily, seeing your dentist regularly for cleanings to remove any remaining hard-to-reach plaque and calculus, and eating a nutritious diet with fewer sweets or other carbohydrate-rich snacks.

You can further lower your disease risk by avoiding smoking and other tobacco products and moderating your consumption of alcohol. And be sure to see your dentist as soon as possible if you notice any signs of infection with your gums. Taking these steps can help you avoid gum disease’s destructiveness and help preserve a healthy and attractive smile.

If you would like more information on gum disease, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.

By Dr. James Pechloff
August 16, 2016
Category: Oral Health

While both plaque and tartar can cause problems for your smile they are different!

Brushing and flossing your teeth regularly is one surefire way to make sure that you get a clean bill of health from your Wauwatosa plaque and tartardentist Dr. James Pechloff. Of course, plaque and tartar can still buildup despite your best efforts. But what are plaque and tartar and how do they impact your oral health?


This is a sticky thin film that builds up on the teeth and gum line. Plaque is made up of bacteria, saliva and food particles, and it forms on teeth each and every day. Unfortunately, plaque is bad for your teeth and is responsible for cavities and gum disease. But with regular brushing and flossing, you can often remove this harmful film from your teeth.

Plaque is responsible for the formation of cavities because of the acid it can create. Whenever you eat, the plaque converts the foods’ sugars into acid, which erodes healthy tooth enamel over time. Those with plaque problems may also notice that their gums bleed when they brush or floss.


Instead of being clear and sticky like plaque, tartar is hard, yellow and can be rather unsightly. Tartar forms along the gumline and is made from plaque that hasn’t been brushed way. When plaque remains on teeth, it hardens on teeth and becomes tartar.

Just like plaque, tartar will continue to get worse until removed. Unfortunately, it isn’t as easy to remove as it is with plaque. In fact, the only way to remove tartar is by seeing your dentist for a cleaning. Through special scaling instruments, we can easily remove tartar, which your regular toothbrush can’t handle.

You should be visiting your Wauwatosa preventive dentist every six months for routine cleanings and exams. If it’s time for your next cleaning then don’t hesitate to call Dr. Pechloff today!