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Most of us learned our dental hygiene habits when we were children. However, now that we are adults, many of us are interested in learning more about mouth health. Here are some frequently asked questions about oral health.

What causes cavities?
Though there are some exceptions, cavities are typically caused by enamel erosion due to acid (some damage to enamel comes from injury). The bacteria in your mouth feed off of sugars present in food. They then create an acidic byproduct, which eats away at enamel until it forms a hole. Acids present in food and drink can also cause enamel erosion more directly. While we often think of acid as things like citrus fruits, there are other acidic foods and drinks to pay attention to. Some less obvious culprits are wine and sports drinks.

What is plaque?
Plaque is a sticky substance that builds up as a film on teeth and gums. It is made of the bacteria that live in your mouth. Plaque should be removed every day, by brushing and flossing your teeth.

What is tartar?
Tartar is hardened plaque. Tartar can only be removed during a cleaning by your dentist, as he has the proper tools and skill to remove it without damaging enamel and gum tissue. Tartar forms both above and below the gumline, and contributes to gum disease and cavity formation. It is important to see your dentist twice a year to reduce or eliminate tartar formation.

For more information, call Ronald F. Konopka, D.D.S. in St. Clair Shores, Michigan, at 586-296-1140. Dr. Konopka and our team are happy to help!