Dental plaque is a sticky film that bacteria adhere to. Bacteria produce acid that causes tooth decay. Good oral hygiene and dental care can help prevent and remove plaque.

Plaque is a sticky film that builds up every day: When you first wake up, you feel that slippery/fuzzy shell.

Scientists call plaque a “biofilm” because it’s a collection of living microbes surrounded by a sticky polymer layer. The sticky coating helps microbes stick to the surface of the mouth so they can grow into thriving microcolonies.

Difference between plaque and tartar
When plaque isn’t removed regularly, minerals in the saliva build up and harden into a rocky white or yellow substance.

Tartar forms along the gum line in the front and back of the teeth. Although careful brushing can remove tartar build-up, you need to see a dentist to get rid of it all.

What causes plaque?
Your mouth is a thriving ecosystem. Bacteria and other organisms enter when you eat, drink, or breathe. Most of the time, your oral ecosystem maintains a delicate balance, but when certain bacterial strains are overgrown, problems can occur.

When you eat carbohydrates, sugary foods and drinks, bacteria feed on sugar and produce acid. These acids can cause tooth decay, gingivitis and other types of tooth decay.

Tooth decay caused by plaque can also occur beneath your gums where you can’t see it, eating away at your teeth.

How is plaque diagnosed?
In most cases, plaques are colorless or light yellow in color. During an oral exam, your dentist can use a small mirror to detect plaque on your teeth.

What is the treatment for plaque?
Brush your teeth regularly with a soft-bristled brush and floss to remove plaque. Some dentists recommend electric toothbrushes because they believe they are more effective at removing plaque.

A 2019 study found that using a toothpaste containing baking soda is a good way to get rid of plaque.

Plaque that hardens into tartar needs to be removed by a professional. Your dentist or oral hygienist can remove it during regular dental checkups and cleanings. Tartar builds up in hard-to-reach places, so it’s really important to see your dentist twice a year to keep it under control.

How to prevent plaque formation
Maintain good oral hygiene
The most important thing you can do to keep the bacteria in plaque from harming your teeth and gums is to brush your teeth every day. Brush your teeth twice a day and after eating sweet food. The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth for two minutes twice a day.

To learn an effective way to remove plaque from your brushes, try the methods suggested here.

It is very important to brush your teeth daily as plaque can build up between your teeth. An important part of oral health is regular visits to the dentist for cleanings and checkups.

Consider mouthwash products when you rinse and floss to remove bacteria from between your teeth. In a 2016 peer-reviewed review of the medical literature, researchers concluded that when mouthwash is used alongside brushing and flossing, plaque and gingivitis are significantly reduced.

Mouthwashes contain a variety of active ingredients: Chlorhexidine (CHX), probiotics, herbal and essential oil mouthwashes have all been studied.

CHX is only available with a prescription. It’s effective at reducing plaque build-up and gum health, but it can also stain teeth, increase tartar, and change the taste of food.

If you want a rinse that won’t cause staining or other side effects, try a probiotic or herbal rinse. A 2016 study showed that both types significantly improved plaque levels without staining when rinsed with CHX.

Some studies have found that rinses containing essential oils produce less plaque than brushing and flossing alone. For example, Listerine Cool Mint contains small amounts of menthol, thyme, wintergreen, and eucalyptus oils, and a 2017 study found it reduced plaque and gingivitis.

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