What is Plaque? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment and Prevention

By Elite Dental Group


Our teeth are covered with a sticky, colourless film of bacteria known as plaque. It can be blamed for causing cavities and gum disease. A plaque which is not removed daily with the help of brushing and flossing between the teeth can harden into tartar.

Tartar is also known as dental calculus, which is a brown or yellow coloured deposit that gets developed when plaque hardens on the teeth. Just because the formation of tartar on teeth is strongly bonded to the tooth enamel, it can be ejected out only by a dental surgeon. Tartar mainly takes place when a person has a dry mouth, braces, those who smoke or affected with aging. It is said that almost 68% of adult have tartar. At such times, brushing and flossing will become complicated because tartar collects at the gum line. When plaque, tartar and bacteria increases, the gum tissue can become red, swollen and can bleed at the time of brushing. The process takes place is known as gingivitis, which is an early stage of gum disease.

However, gingivitis can be reversible if a person takes care of its oral hygiene. But if it is taking place in a serious manner, try to adopt a professional treatment because if gingivitis if left untreated, they can proceed towards periodontitis. Periodontitis is a more severe type of gum disease that occurs when the bacterial infection causes the gums and the bone upholding the teeth to break down. At such cases, the gums may start to recede, pulling back from the teeth. The bone which supports the teeth can be destroyed sometimes that can lead to tooth loss.

Dental Plaque Symptoms

However plaque is mostly colourless, but it can be of a pale yellow colour. Everybody forms plaque as bacteria constantly form in our mouth. Such bacteria use ingredients found in our diet and saliva to grow. One of the best suggestions to avoid plaque is to maintain good oral hygiene. You can visit your dental professional every six months for a dental check-up. They may implement dental mirrors to explore plaque in hard to see places and scrape them between the teeth with the help of a dental scaler. A plaque which is not removed can be responsible for irritating the gums around the teeth that can lead towards gingivitis, like red, swollen or bleeding gums along with tooth loss and periodontal disease.

Complications Of Plaque

Plaque can lead towards cavities as the acids created by the bacteria in the plaque can make the pH level low and can eat away at the tooth enamel. Accumulation of plaque bacteria can make inflammation of the gums and the build-up of plaque from poor dental hygiene can lead towards bad breath. The surfaces of our teeth are uniquely hard and non-shedding unlike other parts of the body. Therefore, moist and warm environment of the mouth and presence of the teeth creates a nice surrounding for the development and growth of dental plaque.

Some of the ecological factors like pH, temperature, saliva and redox reactions contribute towards the formation of plaque. The ordinary pH range of saliva is supposed to be 6 and 7. The plaque biofilm is known to prosper in a pH between 6.7 and 8.3. This provides an indication that the natural surroundings of the mouth provided by saliva are supposed to be perfect for the development of bacteria in the dental plaque.

Saliva acts as a buffer in our body that assists to keep up the pH in the mouth between 6 and 7. Saliva, along with gingival crevicular fluid has primary nutrients like proteins, amino acids, and glycoproteins. This feeds the bacteria build-up of plaque.

Causes Of Plaque

Causes Of Plaque
Plaque takes place when foods containing carbohydrates like soft drinks, cakes, milk, raisins or candy are frequently left on the teeth. When food, saliva, and fluids combine together in the mouth, they create an environment which allows the bacteria to develop and deposit that collect on gums and teeth, especially where both of them meet. Plaque hides under the gum line and between the teeth. That is why it is advised to take care of your teeth and mouth by maintaining good oral health.

How To Remove Plaque On Teeth

Remove Plaque On Teeth
Plaque is supposed to be colourless and difficult to see. Heavy plaque deposits can be easier to get visible and may not look like a thick white deposit of food connected to the teeth. If someone is not sure to see their plaque on the teeth, there are some disclosing tablets that will temporarily stain the plaque so that one can discover them more easily. A person can also rinse with a few drops of food colouring in two ounces of water. Until the stain is gone, try to concentrate towards brush and floss.

  1. If you need to take care of your oral health, try to brush sincerely for at least two times a day. Pursue a soft-bristled brush with fluoride-containing toothpaste to clear out plaque from the tooth surfaces in order to save the teeth from decay.
  2. Take a balanced diet and limit between-meal snacks that can carry more sugar for the bacteria in plaque to convert into decay-causing agents. If you are fond of snacks, try to choose nutritious foods like cheese, plain yogurt, raw vegetables or fruits. Vegetables, especially celery is helpful in removing food and assist saliva to neutralize plaque-causing acids.
  3. Plaque is considered as sticky substances, that’s why it is eagerly important to brush or floss to remove them. Mouth rinses aren’t suitable enough to remove the plaque for keeping teeth and gums healthy.
  4. Scheduling regular visits for professional cleanings and dental examinations is one of the suitable ideas to prevent plaque build-up.


A healthy mouth can prevent you from a variety of problems. Only you need to do is to take care of your oral hygiene. Still, if you are facing problems related to your teeth or mouth, make sure to believe that a dentist will assist you in relieving your dental problems.

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