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What Is Plaque?

What is Plaque?

Plaque is a sticky, colourless film of bacteria and sugars that constantly forms on our teeth and gums, as well as on dentures and braces . It is one of the main causes of cavities and gum disease. Plaque can harden into tartar if not removed daily. Tatar can only be removed by a dental professional.

Does Everyone Have Plaque?

Everyone develops plaque, because our mouths are full of bacteria that is constantly multiplying. These bacteria use ingredients found in our diet and saliva to grow. Plaque can easily be removed with thorough tooth brushing (twice a day) and cleaning between your teeth with floss or interdental brushes.

How Does Plaque Affect our Teeth and Gums?

Every time we eat our teeth are exposed to the sugars in food and the plaque in our mouth uses these sugars to make acid. This acid can attack the teeth and this attack can last 20 minutes. With repeated acid attacks, the tooth enamel can break down and a cavity may form.

Plaque that is not removed can also irritate the gums around your teeth, leading to gingivitis (red, swollen, bleeding gums). Plaque and tatar can contribute to more severe gum disease which can result in tooth loss.

How Can I Prevent Plaque Buildup?

It's easy to prevent plaque buildup with good oral hygiene measures.  Make sure to:

  • Brush with a fluoride toothpaste thoroughly at least twice a day to remove plaque from all surfaces of your teeth

  • Use floss or interdental brushes daily to remove plaque from between your teeth and under your gumline, where your toothbrush may not reach

  • Limit sugary food and drinks and the number of times a day that you snack. 

  • Schedule regular dental visits for professional cleanings  and dental examinations