Dental Plaque


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Dental plaque is a term used to describe the sticky, colourless film which is regularly formed on the surface and in between teeth. Dental plaque is comprised of a number of microorganisms and different types of bacteria. Plaque can form in a number of locations including on your teeth located above the gum line, below the gum line and along the gum line. If left untreated, dental plaque can accumulate and may harden in to tartar or calculus.

Problems caused by Plaque

As you eat, the bacteria which make up plaque release acids as a by-product of their feeding process. These acids erode the enamel on the outer surface of your teeth and cause particular damage above the gum line and in between your teeth. If plaque is left unhindered it will erode your enamel and cause a number of dental problems such as cavities and tooth decay.

Plaque which has built up under your gum line can cause tartar or bacteria to irritate your gum tissue and in some cases leads to gum disease or gingivitis. Gums which have become inflamed will have a red appearance and in some cases will bleed. If the build-up of plaque is left untreated it may cause damage to the structure of your teeth and bones and a wide variety of other dental health issues.

Removing Dental Plaque

For healthy gums, brushing and flossing at least twice a day should be sufficient to break up naturally occurring plaque from your teeth. Using a fluoride-based toothpaste can also contribute to plaque removal from the surface of your teeth while floss helps to keep the sections between your teeth, free of bacteria. If you are experiencing inflamed or bleeding gums then you should contact your dentist.

If you have problems with gum disease or gingivitis then a professional cleaning procedure combined with a good oral health regime should be enough to control plaque buildup. However if the plaque buildup is extensive then other procedures such as root planing or scaling may be required. This treatment is commonly used to extract calculus and plaque located near the gum pockets and roots of teeth. Depending on how severe the damage is your dentist may refer you to a specialist in gum problems known as a periodontist.

Preventing Plaque Build-up

It is vital to maintain a decent level of oral health to keep your dental plaque levels under control. Most dentists agree you should brush and floss at least twice a day for around two minutes. It is also important to have regular checkups with your dentist so that any problems can be spotted and dealt with before they turn into a serious issue. You can help to lower your plaque levels by maintaining a healthy and varied diet and keeping sugary snacks and drinks to a minimum. Additionally, if you smoke you should strongly consider quitting as this can have a huge impact on your oral health.


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