Plaque on teeth causes and treatment

What Causes Plaque On Teeth?

No, we’re not talking about that wooden plaque in your den bearing a rainbow trout. We’re talking about that sticky deposit plaque on your teeth formed from the bacteria in your mouth. One we want, the other we want to remove. But don’t worry, plaque is super common, and you can effectively manage and treat plaque formation depending on the cause.

What Causes Plaque on Teeth?

What causes plaque? It’s bacteria. Some bacteria are actually good. And some build up on your teeth’s surfaces to form a plaque biofilm, often at your gumline. While it’s normal and expected, you want to prevent it from mingling with sugar. The bacteria feed on sugars, producing acids, which can create problems for you and your mouth. 

Why You Should Care About It

With plaque buildup or excessive plaque, a few concerns may occur. They include:

  • Tooth decay: 
    If plaque on your teeth builds up, those acids can wear away on your teeth’s enamel and lead to cavities. If these acids aren’t cleaned off, they can continue to the pulp of the tooth.
  • Tooth abscess:
    Ignoring plaque can eventually lead to an abscess or bacterial infection inside the tooth. Preventing an abscess starts with removing plaque daily.
  • Tartar:
    If you don’t brush or floss regularly, plaque can also harden into tartar, which can stain your teeth yellow or tan. Brushing and flossing alone won’t get rid of tartar, so you’ll need to see your dental professional to remove tartar buildup.
  • Gingivitis and periodontitis:
    Plaque can also cause your gums to inflame, leading to gingivitis or periodontal disease.

How Do You Treat Plaque on Teeth?

You will never stop plaque from forming, but try these few simple ways to remove it so you can avoid complications like tooth decay and tartar. 

  1. Floss daily
     or use an interdental cleaning device to remove plaque and food particles from between teeth.
  2. Use fluoride toothpaste
    to help strengthen the enamel and protect teeth from decay.
  3. Brush twice a day
    for two minutes to eliminate most plaque.
  4. Use an antibacterial mouthwash
    to help control plaque buildup. 
  5. Avoid sugary foods and drinks
    to help prevent tooth-decaying acid from forming on teeth.

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), chewing sugar-free gum and rinsing your mouth with water after meals can also help.

How Do You Prevent Plaque In The Future? 

Regularly visit your dental professional to help minimize plaque buildup and prevent tartar from forming. A dental hygiene appointment can remove the plaque and tartar from your mouth’s nooks and crannies that you couldn’t reach. Schedule an appointment today if you have concerns about plaque prevention.


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This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.