What Is Dental Plaque?
Dental plaque is a thin, sticky, light yellow film that develops naturally on teeth. It’s the gooey, almost colorless substance you find on dental floss after it’s been used to clean between your teeth.
Plaque is made up of groups of bacteria called biofilm that attach to the tooth’s surface, mainly in tight areas. It is a natural phenomenon and some specialists say that it is a defense mechanism to help prevent the formation of harmful bacteria colonies on the teeth and in the mouth area.
Plaque is formed when we eat foods with high carbohydrates such as milk, soda, raisins, cakes, chocolate and other sweet foods. These provide a thriving environment for bacteria, resulting in harmful acids that can ultimately destroy teeth, specifically the roots and gums.
Dental plaque can adhere to the teeth surface for long periods of time leading to tooth decay or gum disease.
In the early stages of dental plaque, the biofilm is sticky and almost colorless. During this stage it is easily brushed off with a toothbrush during regular cleaning. However, after several days, inorganic compounds such as calcium and phosphorus settle on the teeth and create a calcified plaque which can lead to serious problems. The calcified plaque provides a breeding ground for bacteria that cause tooth decay, gingivitis (gum disease) and gum infections. Untreated, the hardened plaque builds up and becomes difficult to remove.
Prevention of dental plaque
- Brushing after each meal is essential to fight the buildup of plaque. When brushing and flossing, pay special attention to the tight spaces between teeth.
- Visit the dentist for a professional cleaning every 6 months. During the appointment, a dental professional will remove any plaque or calculus that has formed since your last visit.
- Eat a balanced diet with limited snacks between meals. Choose high fiber foods such as fruit and vegetables or dairy products such as yogurts and milk.