Dental care - adult


Tooth decay and gum disease are caused by plaque, a sticky combination of bacteria and food. Plaque begins to build up on teeth within 20 minutes after eating. If teeth are not cleaned well each day, plaque will lead to tooth decay. If you do not remove plaque, it turns into a hard deposit called tartar that becomes trapped at the base of the tooth. Plaque and tartar irritate and inflame the gums. Bacteria and the toxins they produce cause the gums to become:

By taking good care of your teeth and gums, you can help prevent problems such as tooth decay and gum disease (periodontitis). You should also teach your children how to brush and floss from an early age to help them protect their teeth.

Plaque and tartar lead to a number of problems:



Healthy teeth are clean and have no cavities. Healthy gums are pink and firm. To maintain healthy teeth and gums, follow these steps:

Regular teeth cleaning by a dentist removes plaque that may develop, even with careful brushing and flossing. This is very important for getting at areas that are hard to reach on your own. Professional cleaning includes scaling and polishing. This procedure uses instruments to loosen and remove deposits from the teeth. Routine exams may include dental x-rays. Your dentist can catch problems early, so they do not become more serious and expensive to fix.

Ask your dentist:


Call your dentist if you have symptoms of a cavity that include:

Get early treatment for gum disease. Call your dentist if you have symptoms of gum disease that include:

Review Date: 12/28/2014
Reviewed By: Ilona Fotek, DMD, MS, private practice in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

This information should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. © 1997- 2007 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.