Plaque on Teeth: Causes and Treatment

plaque on teeth

What is Plaque on Teeth? Plaque is a thin, sticky film that forms on your teeth every single day. Do you know that slippery/fuzzy coating you feel when you first wake up early in the morning? The plaque is the colorless yellow film that is constantly forming on your teeth.

Scientists have named it “biofilm” because it is actually a community of living microbes surrounded by a gluey polymer layer. Saliva, food and fluids all combine together to form dental plaque. It contains bacteria and forms in between your teeth and along your gum line.

plaque on teethThe sticky coating helps the microbes attach to your teeth surfaces. This provides an environment in your mouth so they can grow into thriving microcolonies.  American Dental Association with more than 161,000 members is the world’s largest dental association that promotes good oral health.

The Difference Between Plaque and Tartar

When you do not remove plaque regularly, it gets accumulated. The minerals present in your saliva harden into an off-white or yellow substance called tartar.

Tartar initially starts to build up along your gum line, both on the fronts and backs of your teeth. Regular, attentive flossing may dislodge some tartar buildup on your tooth enamel. But you will probably need to visit a dentist to remove all the tartar from your teeth. 

If the plaque is not removed adequately, it can harden into tartar or calculus at the base of the teeth, near your gums. This has a yellow color. Calculus can only be removed professionally.

What Causes Plaque on Teeth?

Your mouth is a thriving ecosystem ideal for bacteria to grow. Bacteria and other organisms come inside your mouth when you eat, drink, and breathe. 

Most of the time, a delicate balance is maintained in your oral ecosystem, which might not be harmful. But problems can arise when certain types of bacteria become overabundant.

When you eat food high in carbs and sugar, the bacteria feed on the sugars, producing acids in the process. Those acids accumulate over a period of time, causing problems like tooth cavities, gingivitis, bad breath and other forms of tooth decay.

Plaque slowly leads to tooth decay. It can happen under your gums where it is not visible. It slowly eats away at the support for your teeth.

plaque on teeth

Do you know that dental plaque begins forming on your teeth 4 to 12 hours after brushing? This is why it is so important to brush thoroughly at least twice a day and also floss daily.

Spotting the Early Signs of Plaque On Teeth

The layer formed can be a pale yellow color film on the teeth surface. At times it could also be colorless, making it difficult to see. 

That’s why it’s essential to maintain good oral hygiene. Your dentist may use dental mirrors to spot plaque in hard to see places. 

Once spotted, your dentist will scrape the plaque between your teeth using a dental scaler. Every set of teeth is unique, so ask your dentist for tips that might help address plaque buildup.  

If you want to know whether you have removed plaque properly at home, using plaque disclosing tablets. These tablets will stain your teeth and expose the plaque. The tablets are easily available at your local drug store. 

Once exposed, it is easy to tell where you might need to do a better job of brushing. So as to effectively remove plaque at home. 

Other Causes of Parque on Teeth

Changes in hormones: This generally occurs during puberty, menopause, the menstrual cycle, and pregnancy. The gingiva or the gum tissues might become more sensitive, thus increasing the risk of inflammation.

Some other diseases: Chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, and HIV are linked to a higher risk of dental plaque and gum disease.

Drugs: Oral health may be affected by some medications in cases when the saliva flow is reduced. Plaque formation can depend on the medicines you are taking.

Smoking: Regular smokers may encounter plaque issues compared with non-smokers.

plaque on teethAge: The risk of dental plaque increases with age.

Poor diet: A vitamin-C deficiency diet can affect your dental health leading to plaque formation. 

Family history: Those whose parents have had dental issues have a higher risk of developing it too. This is because of the type of bacteria we acquire during our early life.

How to Prevent Plaque on Teeth

1 Practice good oral hygiene

Your goal should be to keep the bacteria in plaque from harming your teeth and gums. Hence you need to clean your teeth every day in the right manner. Brush your teeth twice a day, and brush after eating sugary foods.

It’s also very important to floss your teeth daily. Since plaque generally forms in the tight spaces between your teeth. And an important part of good oral health is to visit your dentist regularly for checkup and teeth cleaning

2 Swish!

To attack the harmful bacteria in your mouth, consider a mouth rinse product when you rinse and floss using a dental floss. Research has proved that when mouth rinse is used along with brushing and flossing, there’s a significant reduction in plaque and gingivitis.

Mouth rinses have a range of different active ingredients. Ingredients like Chlorhexidine (CHX), probiotic, herbs and essential oils. 

CHX is available by prescription only. Meaning you cannot buy it over the counter. The CHX is effective in reducing plaque buildup and overall gum health. It is a good chemical agent, an effective antimicrobial agent for the reduction of both plaque and gingivitis. But it can stain your teeth and make your food taste differently. 

If you want a mouth rinse that won’t cause staining or other side effects, you must consider a herbal or probiotic rinse. You can also use a mouth rinse that contains essential oils. Such rinses can help in less plaque buildup.

plaque on teeth

3 Cranberries!

Talk to your dentist about including cranberry products in your diet. Recent studies have shown that cranberries contain polyphenols which help to reduce the effect of mouth bacteria. These bacteria actually lead to cavities. 

What’s the Treatment for Plaque on Teeth?

You can remove plaque formed on your gum line by brushing your teeth regularly with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Your dentist might also recommend electric toothbrushes because they are more effective at removing plaque. You can also use toothpaste containing baking soda as it is a good way to get rid of plaque.

Plaque that has hardened into tartar can only be removed by your dentist. When you visit the dental clinic for a regular dental checkup and cleaning, your dentist will remove it. Parque on teeth generally builds up in hard-to-reach places, hence dentist visits are important to keep it under control.

plaque on teethGood oral hygiene helps remove plaque and prevents tartar buildup. Your dental professional may recommend the following: 

  • Use dental sealants to keep plaque from forming on your  top chewing surfaces of teeth.
  • Using dry mouth medications help to increase saliva production.
  • They might suggest fluoride treatments to slow down the growth of plaque-causing bacteria and stop tooth decay.
  • Prescription toothpaste or antibacterial mouthwash like chlorhexidine.

Ways to Eliminate Plaque – Home Remedy

Brushing: You must brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste. Your dentists will recommend brushing twice a day after meals. 

You should brush your teeth at least for two minutes. Make sure to clean all the surfaces of each tooth. You must start brushing your kid’s baby teeth from a very young age. Preferably use a toothbrush with soft bristles so that your gums are not hurt.

plaque on teeth

Flossing: You can remove only 40% of the tartar by brushing. The plaque formed between the teeth can be removed by flossing. The interdental spaces and areas under your gum line are better handled while you floss your teeth. Ideally, you should floss after each meal.

Mouthwash: Make it a habit to use mouthwash regularly after meals. It is even better if your mouthwash has fluoride. If you already are struggling with plaque, ask your dentist to recommend an antibacterial mouthwash.

Eating healthy: Hope you know that food rich in starch and sugar are a rich breeding ground for bacteria. Hence you should try avoiding them. 

Eat healthier food like raw fruits and veggies that are rich in nutrients also help in the cleansing action of your teeth. While you chew these veggies, your teeth get cleaned as they have plenty of roughage.

plaque on teeth

Regular dental check-ups: Most people avoid going to the dentist until something goes wrong. Instead, you should consciously visit your dentist regularly every six months. 

This will ensure that your problems are detected early. Having professional cleaning done actually helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease.

Outlook for Managing Plaque on Teeth

Plaque forms in your mouth round the clock. Even when you sleep at night and during the day as you eat and drink. You should practice good oral hygiene, limit sugary drinks and food, and see your dentist twice a year. All this will prevent plaque formation, and you can keep its growth manageable.

Remember, without regular cleaning, plaque may harden into tartar. Resulting in the formation of tooth cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease. 

plaque on teeth

Take note that if plaque and tooth decay go undetected and untreated, the consequences could be dangerous. You could develop a painful gum infection or might even lose your teeth.

If you have inflammation in your mouth, it can probably lead to other health issues in the future. So it’s a good idea to stay on top of plaque by following good dental habits and regular trips to your dentist.

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