What Is Plaque?
What Causes Plaque?
Symptoms and Detection of Plaque
How to Get Rid of Plaque at Home
Dangers of Plaque
What Is Tartar?
How to Prevent Plaque Buildup
All You Need to Know About Plaque
Chances are you’ve heard your hygienist or dentist talk to you about the importance of brushing and flossing to keep plaque away. Plaque build-up on teeth turns into tartar. Plaque build-up can also lead to other oral problems, not to mention yellow teeth and bad breath. Keep reading for all you need to know about plaque and tartar, including how you can keep your mouth healthy through a good oral hygiene routine.
What is plaque? Dental plaque defined
Have you ever wondered what the plaque on your teeth actually is? Dental plaque, also known as tooth plaque, microbial plaque and dental biofilm, is a soft, sticky film that builds up on your teeth. It contains millions of bacteria that feed on the food and drinks you eat every day. If bacteria deposits from plaque on teeth aren’t removed through regular brushing and flossing, they can cause tooth decay and gum disease. Also plaque build-up can lead to tartar.
Major causes of plaque
When saliva meets food and drink, bacteria can grow and form. Plaque hides between teeth and under the gum line. There’s no way to avoid it entirely so it’s important to maintain a good oral routine to keep it from accumulating.
Certain foods, especially carbohydrates (foods containing sugars or starches), are big contributors to plaque growth:
- Soft drinks
How to spot plaque on teeth
Plaque can be a pale yellow color, but it can also be colorless making it difficult to see. That’s why it’s important to maintain good oral hygiene and see your dental professional every 6 months for a checkup. They may use dental mirrors to spot plaque in hard to see places, and scrape the plaque between your teeth with a dental scaler. Every set of teeth is unique, so ask your dentist for brushing and flossing tips to help address plaque buildup.
If you want to know whether you’re removing plaque properly from home, try staining it using plaque disclosing tablets, available at your local drug store. By staining and exposing plaque, it’s easy to tell where you may need to do a better job of brushing and flossing so you can effectively remove plaque at home. The tablets’ stains can easily be brushed away.
How to get rid of plaque
There are two main methods to removing the plaque on your teeth –using the mechanical motion of brushing and flossing, to remove plaque, and exposing plaque to anti-bacterial ingredients to kill and help keep it from growing back. If you’re looking for a comprehensive routine as well as at-home methods, see our guide on how to get rid of plaque.
Plaque can lead to bigger problems
If plaque is allowed to accumulate on your teeth, it can lead to bigger issues for your gums and teeth enamel. The damage it can lead to could even become permanent. In fact, plaque is the cause of many oral issues such as gingivitis and tartar.
What is tartar?
When plaque is left to build on teeth, tartar forms. Tartar, also called dental calculus, is a yellow or brown colored deposit that forms when plaque hardens on your teeth.
Tartar on teeth, unlike plaque, cannot be removed at home. Since tartar buildup on teeth is strongly bonded to the enamel, it can only be removed by a dental professional through a professional teeth cleaning.
How to prevent plaque buildups that cause tartar
While tartar can only be removed by a dental professional, there are many ways that you can easily keep tartar from forming on your teeth. You’ll need to maintain good brushing and flossing habits that remove plaque. That means following your oral routine twice a day, every day. You can also try incorporating these products to help keep your mouth bacteria-free: