Polish those pearls: How to achieve great results for your teeth

Oral care products should be abrasive enough to clean away dental plaque, but gentle enough so as not to harm the gums. They should also keep breath fresh and provide stain removal. John Woodruff discovers several new materials to help oral care makers achieve great results

Oral care is mainly concerned with the teeth and the care of them, which includes cleaning and removal of dental plaque using toothpastes, gels and mouthwashes.

The main factors affecting oral health are plaque, calculus, tooth decay, gum disease and bad breath. Plaque is a combination of bacteria, saliva, acid and food particles.

After eating or drinking foods with sugar, a protein in saliva turns sugar into acid and plaque starts forming on the teeth. If plaque is not removed it hardens into calculus, also called tartar.

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