Will Hardened Plaque Go Away?


Plaque is an extremely sticky substance and caused by food debris mixing with saliva and bacteria. Patients who have poor oral hygiene or fail to brush their teeth after easting, often notice the formation and build-up of plaque on their teeth. Plaque contains bacteria and can lead to issues such gum disease and tooth decay when it is not removed in a timely manner.


Plaque Formation

The formation of plaque is the result of a chemical reaction that takes place in the mouth. Plaque is created in the mouth by bacteria, carbohydrates, food debris, and saliva. Carbohydrates exist in most types of foods, including fruit and vegetables. Certain food with a higher sugar content typically has higher amounts of carbohydrates. As a result, snacks such as candy, cookies, and other sweets increase the likelihood of a patient forming plaque on their teeth.


Plaque formation begins with the breakdown of food into carbohydrates during the chewing process. Carbohydrates are combined with natural bacteria found in the mouth and an acid is created. Unfortunately, the acid alone can cause issues as it damages the tooth’s enamel. When the acid is combined with food and saliva, there is actually another chemical reaction which takes place and creates a hard, sticky substance called plaque. Plaque sticks to the teeth and can cause various types of issues when it is not removed efficiently.


Plaque is colorless in its appearance, but can make the teeth feel somewhat fuzzy. The stickiness can cause discoloration from food particles getting stuck to the teeth. Plaque will eventually harden, turn yellow, and become tartar. Once there is a build-up of plaque on the teeth, it can damage the tooth’s enamel. Once the enamel is damaged, the teeth can be at a high risk for decay and cavities. In some cases, the buildup of plaque can result in gingivitis and serious gum disease.


Plaque vs. Tartar

When plaque remains on the teeth for multiple days, it eventually will harden and become tartar. Tartar must be scraped off by a dental professional as it cannot be removed using at home techniques. When tartar forms on the teeth, they become yellow and can have a bad odor. It becomes challenging to properly clean the teeth completely after there is a build-up of tartar.


Plaque Removal

After plaque forms on the teeth, patients have relatively limited time to ensure it is removed. When plaque is not removed in a timely manner, it hardens. In most cases, plaque will harden within about 48 hours. Within several days, the plaque will become extremely hard and nearly impossible to remove at home. Tartar is the hard substance which forms and a dental professional must scrape the substance off the teeth. While certain types of toothpaste advertise that they can aid in controlling tartar, they actually work by removing plaque from the teeth before it hardens and turns into tartar.


It is extremely important for patients to practice good oral hygiene to remove plaque and prevent the formation of tartar. Good oral hygiene includes brushing the teeth at least twice each day and daily flossing. While preventing the build-up of plaque is ideal, patients should ensure that any accumulated plaque is properly removed to ensure they maintain good oral health. Brushing the teeth can remove plaque before it hardens into tartar.


Dental plaque can be unpleasant and frustrating to deal with, however, it must be properly treated. Plaque which remains untreated over time can cause serious issues including gum disease, decay, and even tooth loss. Patients must practice good oral hygiene and ensure they make regular visits to the dentist to maintain a healthy, beautiful smile.

Does anything Dissolve Dental Plaque