Dental Plaque: What Is It and How Do You Prevent It?

Plaque is a sticky, colorless or pale-to-yellow film of bacteria that is constantly forming on and in between your teeth. The buildup of plaque can lead to yellow teeth, bad breath, gingivitis, cavities and much more.

When you eat, the bacteria in plaque use the sugars in your food to produce acids that eat away at the tooth enamel. Dental plaque begins forming on teeth 4-12 hours after brushing, which is why brushing at least twice a day and flossing daily is strongly recommended.

Over time, if plaque isn’t removed on a regular basis, minerals from your saliva are deposited into the plaque biofilm causing it to harden within 24 to 72 hours, turning it into tartar. Unlike plaque, tartar can not be removed at home and requires the help of a dental professional.

How to prevent plaque

  • Visit your dentist every 6 months. Adults who see their dentists regularly are less likely to have plaque related dental diseases.

  • Choose an anti-plaque fluoride toothpaste.

  • Floss daily to remove food particles and plaque between teeth. To prevent the buildup of plaque, be sure to floss once a day and brush your teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride, anti-plaque toothpaste.

  • Avoid smoking to reduce the risk of increased plaque and tartar.

  • Use a mouthwash to help prevent plaque buildup on teeth.

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