The Hidden Dangers of Plaque and Why You Shouldn’t Skip Cleanings

While coming in for your regular, six-month dental cleaning may not be high on your list of your favorite things to do, it is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Sure, two great benefits are that your mouth feels clean and your smile is pristine when you leave the office. While that’s certainly nice, the benefits of your dental cleanings are so much more involved than that. You could have cavities you’re not aware of that need to be filled. Maybe you suffer from bruxism and grind your teeth in your sleep, causing damage that you don’t even know is happening.

Of course, oral cancer always needs to be screened for as it doesn’t present with symptoms until it has advanced. Cancer, though, is relatively rare. The real silent danger that could be putting you at risk if you don’t take proper care of your teeth is plaque. Plaque needs to be taken seriously. Its growth and accumulation may not cause you problems this year or even in five years. But, eventually, you could be facing serious problems including gum disease and other illnesses related to advanced gum disease. Here is what you need to know about the hidden dangers of plaque.

Unsightly tartar

Let’s start with aesthetics, since these issues are the most apparent to the naked eye. Plaque buildup can lead to the growth of tartar. Sure, this may sound like a purely cosmetic issue, but it is certainly not. Tartar, once solidified, can’t be removed without the help of your dentist. It can’t be brushed away. These hard deposits of plaque create unsightly “growths” on the teeth that can appear yellow. They also increase bad breath, which can put a damper on your life socially. Plaque that hardens into tartar has other complications you need to worry about, though. Tartar can lead to gum disease and may also be an indicator of cardiovascular disease indirectly. The reduction of plaque is essential to your oral health and your heart health in at least some capacity.

Crooked teeth

Many things can contribute to plaque growth. While not brushing and flossing properly are certainly big culprits, you may be surprised by what else can contribute. Crooked teeth, for example, don’t necessarily get the attention they deserve when it comes to plaque and gum disease. Many people think of the issue of crooked teeth as being purely aesthetic in nature. While braces do certainly provide aesthetic benefits, they can also benefit your health. Crooked teeth bring health risks. They can cause your bite to become misaligned. This can wear down your teeth. It can also lead to jaw pain and headaches. But, crooked teeth are also hotbeds for plaque growth because they are much harder to clean between and behind. Food is easily trapped and plaque can grow and advance to gum disease. People with crooked teeth have higher incidences of gum disease.

Gum disease

Gingivitis is one of the most common health conditions in the world. About 80% of Americans have some level of gingivitis. Most people don’t even realize they have gingivitis because it is more or less symptomless while it’s mild and in its early stages. You may notice a reddening of your gums or bleeding when you brush your teeth. Bacteria that gets trapped and leads to plaque growth can then transition to gingivitis. Gingivitis can advance to periodontitis. When gum disease reaches that point, gaps may form in the teeth. You may even lose teeth as the disease reaches the bone. Once disease reaches the jawbone, you can have serious health complications.

Gum disease and your health

Health professionals have long believed there is a link between gum disease and heart disease. Further studies seem to confirm that is the case. There is also a believed correlation between gum disease and diabetes. Regular cleanings can lower your chances of having a heart attack and stroke. While the effect isn’t the same as a healthy diet and exercise, the positive effects are notable. Note that people with diabetes have a higher incidence of gum disease because of the body’s inability to fight off bacterial infection and the slowing of healing factors.


Plaque has far reaching effects on your dental health and your body’s overall health. While you may think of your regular dental cleaning as something that’s not really necessary or something “extra” to keep your teeth white, that’s not true. A regular dental cleaning is just as important as an annual visit to your family doctor to check your metrics of health. Oral health issues are often silent until they start creating real problems. Avoid them by making sure you’re seeing your dentist every six months. Book an appointment online today. Dr. Gharibian and the team at Dental Center of Redondo Beach are dedicated to providing you with the dental care you need to stay healthy.