About Dental Plaque


All patients have dental plaque on their teeth. Plaque is sticky substance which collects on the teeth when bacteria found in the mouth is combined with saliva and food debris. Fortunately, regular brushing and flossing can help eliminate plaque from the teeth. When dental plaque is not removed in a timely manner, it will hardens into tartar. Tartar is extremely hard and must be removed by a dental professional. The accumulation of plaque can result in cavities, gum disease, and in severe cases, the loss of teeth. It is important for patients to make regular visits to the dentist for an examination and professional cleaning. During the cleaning, the dental professional will remove any plaque which has accumulated.


Plaque is a sticky substance created from bacteria which continuously forms on the teeth. After eating and drinking, bacteria produces certain acids which can damage the tooth’s enamel. Over time, this can cause issues such as gum disease and cavities.


It is also possible for plaque to develop below the gumline on roots of the teeth. This can damage the bones which support teeth and cause numerous issues. Plaque which remains on the teeth for a long period can harden into tartar which is extremely difficult to remove. In order to properly remove plaque from the teeth and gums, patients must practice good oral hygiene.


When the teeth have a fuzzy feeling, this is plaque. While everyone gets plaque, the following can result in more plaque than normal:

  • Chronically dry mouth
  • Consuming sugary and starchy foods and beverages
  • Patients with cancer who have received radiation
  • Patients who smoke or use tobacco products



The formation of plaque occurs when bacteria in the mouth is combined with starchy and sugary foods. This can include milk, juices, soft drinks, bread, pasta, and even fruit. Bacteria then releases acids which break down the carbohydrates. When patients fail to regularly brush their teeth, the bacteria, acids and carbohydrates combine to form plaque.


Many patients say their teeth feel fuzzy when plaque starts to accumulate on their teeth. Other signs of plaque include bad breath, red, swollen, or tender gums, and gums that bleed after brushing.



In order to prevent the accumulation of plaque, patients must properly care for their teeth and gums through good oral hygiene practices. This includes the following:

  1. Brushing: Patients should brush their teeth twice daily for at least two minutes. It is important to use a soft-bristled toothbrush and toothpaste which contains fluoride.
  2. Flossing: Daily flossing aids in removing food or plaque which is located between teeth in hard to reach places.
  3. Gum: When patients are unable to brush after drinking or eating, they can chew on sugar-free gum. This helps to stimulate the production of saliva and remove plaque and debris from the teeth.
  4. Healthy diet: Patients should avoid consuming food and drinks which have high levels of sugar or starch.
  5. Mouthwash: An over-the-counter antiseptic mouthwash can help remove plaque.
  6. Dental visits: Make routine visits to the dentist about every six months for an examination and cleaning.


While dental plaque is a common issue, it is also easy to resolve with good oral hygiene. When plaque is not properly removed in a timely manner, it can result in tartar. Tartar can result in various issues such as gum disease and tooth loss. Follow up with your dentist if you have any concerns regarding the development of plaque or tartar on your teeth.

Can I Scrape Plaque off My Teeth