- $49 for a dental exam, x-rays, and cleaning ($275 value)
Plaque: Bacteria on Attack
Though trips to the dentist are important, the real work of dental hygiene is done at home. Get inspired to floss daily with Groupon’s analysis of plaque.
Most people have been told since childhood that eating too much sugar causes tooth decay, but there’s an important step between the candy bar and the cavity. Plaque is the pale and ruthless mercenary that carries out sugar’s program of decay. It’s made up of the countless bacteria living in the mouth that multiply when it’s left unbrushed or unflossed. Every time we have a snack or a sip of soda, all those seemingly invisible organisms are feeding too, and as they digest sugars and carbohydrates, they produce harmful acids that eat into the teeth. What’s more, plaque left hanging around eventually hardens into tartar, which can cause gum disease.
The mouth is never entirely rid of bacteria: scientists have found that on one square millimeter of clean tooth surface, about 1,000 organisms make their home. In the course of 12 hours, that bacteria can reproduce up to four times, meaning that it spreads exponentially if left unchecked: after four days without brushing, that same tiny surface can end up housing 256,000 organisms, each one of them busy posting Craigslist ads for more roommates.