What is Plaque on Tooth Made of? Everything You Need to Know

What is plaque on tooth cover image

Why do dentists recommend brushing our teeth two times a day? Of course, it is for good oral hygiene, but what is it that brushing two times a day maintains oral hygiene? That has to do with the development of plaque. What is this plaque on the tooth? Probably the most bothering inconvenience in oral health.

If you run your tongue over your front teeth, you may notice a layer of slippery film over it. This is called dental plaque and it is very normal to have. Our mouth is full of microbes and it is a thriving ecosystem. Food particles, especially sweet ones, lead to an increase in the amount of these microbes (bacteria and fungi sometimes). This is what dental plaque is.

Dental plaque is very quick to form, often starting to form 4 hours after eating. By 12 hours, there’s a significant amount of plaque over your teeth. This is why dentists recommend brushing our teeth two times a day. This is also the reason why brushing teeth at night is so important. Having food particles in your mouth when you sleep for hours will create thick layers of plaque.

The progression of plaque to tartar visual representation
How plaque film accumulates and becomes thick, brown tartar

Why dental plaque is harmful

While dental plaque is normal and can be removed easily, this apparent harmlessness often results in serious conditions. Plaque that is not cleaned properly, especially between the teeth and on the backside gets deposited. And when plaque is deposited for a longer period, it turns into tartar.

Here’s a little activity to check your tartar condition. Flashlight on the backside of your lower front teeth and look at their color in a mirror. Many of you will notice a deeper yellow/ light brown color on the teeth. Try and remove it and it won’t clear. This is what tartar is, the harmful form of plaque.

How tartar is harmful to teeth

Tartar, also called dental calculus is the hardened form of plaque that leads to serious oral problems. Tartar cannot be removed using a brush or mouth. It can also be removed by dentists, so if you do find some, it is better to visit the dentist as soon as possible. Why?

The bacteria in tartar can progressively start to deteriorate the gums. If not removed, this can lead to gum disease gingivitis. Gingivitis is when your gums are swollen and tender and bleed frequently. While it isn’t a terrible disease, negligence in treatment can exacerbate the situation.

Tartar can create pores near the cementum of the tooth, just below the gums. Bacteria can get inside these pores and cause a severe infection called periodontitis. Periodontitis is the inflammation of the gums which causes severe pain. A small area infected with periodontitis can cause pain in the entire jaw and neck.

What’s worse is that the infection can reach the bones and tissues, wreaking havoc. Poor oral hygiene has also been linked with heart disease. See how the innocent plaque created this domino effect which can potentially cause a heart attack!

It is normal to have plaque both on the front and backside of the teeth. Plaque is a biofilm meaning that it is alive, formed of bacteria. One cannot stop the formation of plaque because it is a natural process. But this does not mean that plaque is good to have. Plaque forms periodically, starting at usually 4 hours after a meal. So how to stop it?

How to prevent plaque build-up?

Plaque is inevitable, but it can be managed so that it does not become a menace. Thankfully, keeping plaque growth at bay is easy. Here are some things you can do to prevent the growth of plaque.

Brush twice a day. Keep in mind that brushing at night is much more important than brushing in the morning. The food particles from dinner and the inactivity of the mouth during sleep create the perfect environment for plaque to occur.

Rinse your mouth after every meal. Even if you are snacking, eating a light meal, etc, always rinse your mouth so that you don’t have any remnants of the snack lurking between your teeth.

Flossing is a must. It has been observed that tartar can be reduced by flossing once every day, after dinner. You have no idea how many food particles can stay stuck between your teeth. Flossing gets rid of them, cleaning your mouth and making it hygienic.

Reduce the intake of sugary food and drinks. Any food or drink with high sugar content is a treat for plaque-causing bacteria. Add sugary food like candies and soda with improper oral hygiene and you have a recipe for plaque and tartar.

This concludes the article. But reading should not be concluded as well. Here are some interesting articles related to this one:

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