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Background: What is dental plaque and how does it form?

Article discussing what dental plaque is, how it forms, and why it is a problem.

Links to activities: healthy oral hygiene and healthy diet: how much sugar is in your drinks.

Public Health England data from 2019 has found that almost 9 out of 10 hospital tooth extractions among children aged under 5 years old are due to preventable tooth decay. For children 6 to 10 years old, tooth extraction is still the most common hospital procedure. Infections from tooth decay can lead to increased strain on health services, an overuse of antibiotics and antibiotic resistance.

Did you know? The effects of tooth decay can cause problems with eating, sleeping, communication and socialising, and results in at least 60,000 days being missed from school during the year for hospital extractions alone.

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

A PDF summary of the video can be found in the downloads section below.

Infographic - average cost of tooth extraction for child 5 and under is £836, £50.5million spent on tooth extractions in those under 19 in 2015 and 2016, £7.8million spent on tooth extractions in under 5s

Image taken from Public Health England “Health Matters”.

Dental plaque is formed when bacteria develop on all our teeth and our tongue, clumping together to form a sticky substance called plaque.

  • Plaque builds up all day and night, and is removed by careful tooth brushing of the teeth and gums. This is why tooth brushing morning and night is so important.
  • Left uncleaned, soft plaque will turn into hard scale as minerals from the saliva enter it – this can be seen as a creamy line around your teeth, or you may feel it as a furry layer with your tongue.
  • In the right environment, plaque bacteria can use the sugar in the food we eat to cause tooth decay (dental caries).
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