Have you ever noticed a furry feeling when you’ve run your tongue over your teeth? Or have you noticed how much cleaner and smoother your teeth feel after having them professionally cleaned by a dentist or dental hygienist? Have you ever wondered why?
Well, there’s a very simple explanation for that furry feeling. What you’re feeling is a layer of dental plaque that has built up over the tooth surfaces. Most people know that plaque is considered bad, but often they don’t understand what it really is or why it forms.
How does plaque form?
Plaque is a sticky layer of germs, food debris and proteins that grows on your teeth and is technically known as a biofilm. These germs occur naturally in everyone’s mouth. The sticky layer will form soon after you brush your teeth, thickening and spreading quickly as the germs multiply, particularly if those germs are ‘fed’ by frequent sugary foods or drinks passing over them.
Every time you eat, you provide food for the germs in your plaque. This means you grow thicker plaque if you snack or graze throughout the day. That’s why your dentist will normally recommend that you limit your exposure to sugary, sticky or acidic foods to ideally only three or four occasions each day. And it’s why you’re better off having that sweet drink or treat as part of a normal meal than having it as a snack at another time. If you must snack, then sip some water soon afterwards to help wash away sugary and sticky debris from your teeth, or try to chew some sugar-free gum.
Once plaque gets to be around twelve hours old, it feels quite furry on your teeth. Once it gets to be 24 hours old, we know that the plaque germs produce more acids and toxins which are factors in causing tooth decay and gum disease.
How do I keep the plaque at bay?
Most dentists recommend you brush your teeth every morning and night so that the layer of plaque is removed before it gets thick, furry and stubborn. If you must skip an opportunity to brush your teeth, then don’t skip cleaning your teeth before bedtime, otherwise your plaque will continue to grow while you’re asleep and will be more likely to be of an older, more damaging type.
As plaque grows on all exposed tooth surfaces, remember to also floss your teeth at least once each day to clean those surfaces where your teeth meet and your brush can’t reach. That way, you’ll set yourself up for not only avoiding that furry feeling, but you’ll help to keep your teeth and gums healthy for a lifetime.
What if I can’t get rid of that furry feeling?
And if your teeth are still feeling furry despite all that brushing and flossing, make an appointment to see your dentist. He or she will check your teeth, remove any stubborn build-up and advise you on your cleaning technique, so that you’ll be in a better position to keep them smooth and shiny for longer!