Dental plaque, also known as tooth plaque is that sticky film that coats teeth and contains bacteria.
Treatable by a medical professional
Requires a medical diagnosis.
Lab tests or imaging not required.
Medium-term: resolves within months.
If dental plaque isn’t removed when it’s soft, it hardens and becomes difficult to remove. Dental plaque can damage a tooth and lead to tooth decay or tooth loss.
Very common: More than 1.5 million cases per year (Nigeria)
What is dental plaque made up of?
Plaque is a sticky substance made from leftover food particles and saliva that mix in your mouth. If you don’t brush properly after meals, it begins to form and build up on your teeth. This is problematic because plaque contains bacteria, which can contribute to tooth decay and gum disease.
The difference between plaque and tartar
When plaque isn’t regularly removed, it can accumulate minerals from your saliva and harden into an off-white or yellow substance called tartar.
Tartar builds up along your gum line on the fronts and backs of your teeth. Although an attentive flossing may dislodge some tartar buildup, you’ll probably need to visit a dentist to rid yourself of all of it.
How is plaque diagnosed?
Most of the time, plaque is colorless or pale yellow. A dentist can spot plaque on your teeth using a small mirror during an oral examination.
How to prevent plaque
Practice good oral hygiene.
To keep the bacteria in plaque from harming your teeth and gums, the most important thing you can do is clean your teeth every day. Brush your teeth twice a day, and brush after eating sugary foods. Dentist recommends that you brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes.
It’s also very important to floss your teeth daily since plaque can form in the tight spaces between teeth. And a vital part of good oral health is visiting your dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups.