What is Dental Plaque? Why it is Harmful? Causes & Preventive measures
12 Jan

What is Dental Plaque? Why it is Harmful? Causes & Preventive measures

Sometimes you might have felt some fuzzy feeling even while eating soft foods. It might be Plaque!

You might think that's why it's been too long since you started feeling so. Even when you check in the mirror and found everything is okay except the thin colored layer. Then you will get back to your routine.

If you have ever seen the Television Ad for any Tooth Brush, you might have noticed the yellow substance. Most of us have thought of it as a coloring. But it is not. In real-time, it is the Plaque that when built up for a long creates that fuzzy feeling.

As a child, everyone has always tried to skip brushing and our parents always tried their best to make brushing our routine every morning.

In this blog, I am going to tell you some details about What is Plaque? Why is it harmful? Causes and preventive measures.


By the end of this Blog, you will know

  1. What is Plaque?
  2. Causes of Plaque.
  3. Why Plaque is Harmful?
  4. Impacts of Plaque on Oral Health.
  5. Preventing Plaque Buildup.

Let's get started!

What is Plaque?

Naturally, our mouths have bacteria whether good or bad. The good bacteria help in breaking down the food and kill the bad bacteria in the mouth. Healthy oral bacteria generate proteins to stop the synthesis of bad bacteria. Bad bacteria form the plaque on the tooth.

Plaque is a thick, sticky and colorless substance formed on the teeth. It is a film of bacterial reaction in combination with the acids present in the food we eat. If the plaque build-up is in the initial grade, you may feel it on the sensitive tongue. But mostly, plaque is developed when we do not brush our teeth regularly.

When the saliva in the mouth mixes with the food particles left over between the teeth, it forms a thin and sticky deposit of biofilm. This deposit can be felt first at the gum line. The plaque contains some bacteria which produce acids. These acids weaken or remove the tooth enamel layer. If the plaque is left untreated, it may affect gum health.


Know where the Plaque accumulates

To answer simply, Plaque forms primarily on the tooth surface. Yet, there are two different types of plaque depending on their location.

Supragingival biofilm is a plaque type that forms above the gumline. But this is not restricted to this location. You can find supragingival biofilm on the teeth' surface as well. The chewing surfaces, molars, or gaps in teeth are the ideal locations for plaque build-up.

Subgingival biofilm is the next level to supragingival biofilm. It forms when the supragingival biofilm is not removed. In this case, the bacteria spread to the areas around them. This form of dental plaque forms below the gum line and is anaerobic.


Causes of Plaque


The accumulated food particles are the major reason for plaque buildup. Foods containing large amounts of sugars and starch cause plaque. The foods like milk, soft drinks, raisins, cakes, or candy are not only your favorite foods but also bacteria that reside in your mouth. Over some time, these bacteria destroy the tooth enamel making them sensitive. If left untreated, plaque may develop into thicker layers from deeper. These may lead to tooth decay or gum diseases.


The early signs of plaque

For most people, spotting plaque is a bit difficult. Generally, plaque is a colorless to a pale yellow colored thin layer formed on the tooth. This may be sensed before we brush our teeth.

Sometimes, plaque is hardly visible but shows impact. Hence it is always suggested that individuals consult their dentists once in a while. Dental specialists use certain equipment. Those are easy-to-spot plaques even from the deeper layers.


You can identify if you have plaque or not

Plaque isn't highly visible until it shows pain or discomfort. So, understand the signs of plaque build-up.

  1. A “fuzzy” feeling on the teeth
  2. Chronic bad breath
  3. Yellowing of the teeth
  4. Tender, red, or swollen gums that bleed when brushing
  5. Tooth sensitivity to air, food, or water


If you want to confirm whether you have plaque, you can perform any of these.


1. Dental Exam: If you visit the best dentist near you, they will deeply examine the teeth and gums. They will try to find if any infections or debris accumulated. If they found the build-up is severe, they may suggest for X-ray to check the rate of internal plaque.


2. At-Home Tests: There are many Over-the-counter products to identify the plaque-infected areas of the mouth. These include safe dyes to temporarily strain plaque buildup.


Plaque is Harmful. Why?

If the plaque forms on your teeth then and now based on the food you ate, it is okay. But if that is continuing for days and is frequent, it is no longer normal. While plaque is a natural formation, it isn't always healthy. Always remove the plaque as soon as possible. If you left your plaque untreated, you will likely find yourself in a predicament. In this, your oral health steadily declines.

Plaque is the host of many oral health problems. Your teeth may experience cavities. The bacteria in plaque grow and consistently produce acids. These are harmful to teeth and enamel. You may also experience gingivitis or periodontitis or any gum diseases. Eventually, plaque of longer duration turns into tartar. Tartar is a hard substance to remove from the teeth.


The Impacts of Plaque - on Oral Health

Many people do not realize that plaque can create an impact on oral health. As discussed earlier, overgrown plaque leads to dental calculus. The other impacts include the following:


1. Cavities:

A cavity is an area of teeth where it forms a hole. If left untreated they become larger. The cavity occurs when the acids from the plaque remove the minerals from the top layers of the tooth. The harmful acids from plaque bacteria dilute the minerals on the tooth. These then cause holes in the tooth. Hence if the plaque is regularly removed, there is less likely to develop cavities.


2. Gum Inflammation:

Subgingival biofilm is formed across the gum line. Inflamed gums are the signs that show us plaque buildup or bacterial infection in gums. We can easily identify gum inflammation from conditions like swollen gums, bleeding, etc.

The acid in plaque starts to erode the tooth's surface irritating the gums in the process. This might eventually accumulate gum disease, a far more dangerous dental problem. Visit the dentist every three months to make sure your oral health is in good condition. This will reduce the risk of gum diseases.


3. Halitosis

This is otherwise called Bad breath. As plaque is formed by the acidic reaction between alcohol and oral bacteria, it will create an unpleasant breath for us and around us.


Preventing Plaque Build-up


Preventing plaque buildup should not be the biggest chore. You should make it a routine to maintain proper plaque control measures. So that you will avoid further higher risks.

1. Have regular dental visits. Get dental checkups at least once every 6 months. This will help you to early diagnose any oral imbalances.

2. Floss regularly to avoid the tiny particles accumulating on teeth. Use effective flossing liquids. Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride, anti-plaque toothpaste.

3. Avoid smoking. This reduces plaque built up and many other oral health issues.

4. Regulating the diet habitat also helps in aiding plaque. Avoid eating sugary foods, alcohol, candy desserts, etc.


I recommend you know your risk!

When a patient knows about their risk, they will better take preventive or effective care towards it. This then prevents the further development of plaque or other oral health issues.

For any queries related to oral and dental issues, you can contact us and book your appointment. I assure you you will be happy with the treatments and care from Dr. Jaydev Dental Clinic.

Frequently Asked Questions

Get Every Single Answer About The Treatment

1. Can we consider dental plaque normal?

Yes, but only until it does not affect your oral health. On the whole dental plaque if built up may lead to oral issues like gingivitis, cavities, etc.

2. Can I scrape plaque off my teeth?

Yes, if the plaque is thin and is in its early days, you can carefully scrape it off. Usually, the built-up scrape is to be removed by dental experts.

3. Can we manage Plaque?

The first step to managing plaque is to control its further buildup. You can do this by regularly maintaining proper oral hygiene. Plaque forms in 4 to 12 hours. So brush your teeth at least twice a day to avoid stronger plaque build-up.

4. What are the signs and symptoms of early plaque?

The first symptom is a fuzzy feeling. Usually, a hardened tooth will have noticeable symptoms. Of all the most common are - 1. Gum inflammation 2. Bad Breath 3. White spots on the tooth.

5. Who usually gets plaque?

Everyone. Yes, everyone who maintains poor oral hygiene will have a chance of plaque formation. Plaque is usually a patched-off substance layered on a tooth that can be removed with regular brushing.