Dental plaque is the main preventable cause of tooth decay and gum disease.
Learn simple strategies to control, detect, and fight plaque, to greatly improve your oral health.
What is plaque?
Know your enemy
Plaque is a thin coat on teeth that is soft, sticky, yellow, and transparent. Constantly forming, especially after eating, dental plaque contains bacteria, food debris, and minerals. It tends to build up on rough surfaces (chewing surfaces, edge of fillings) and just above the gums.
If ignored, plaque hardens to tartar or calculus, requiring professional cleaning; and plaque passes under the gums, setting off gum disease.
Cavities, gum disease & blood clots
Plaque risks your health to cavities, gum disease, and blood clots. To understand how plaque causes such damage, read ahead.
Plaque & cavities
Plaque is a major risk factor for cavities. How so? Oral bacteria break down food, especially sugars and starches, into acid. So plaque, which contains bacteria, bathes the underlying teeth in acid, decaying them. Such tooth decay can lead to cavities (holes in teeth).
Plaque & gum disease
Plaque is a major risk factor for gum disease. As it accumulates under the gums, it inflames them (gingivitis) and eventually the bacteria and acid cause bleeding gums, and permanent loss of tooth and bone.
Plaque & blood clots
Further, certain bacteria that enter the bloodstream through damaged gums can cause blood clots and fatal endocarditis, an infection of the heart's valves that the body's immune system cannot beat, cutting blood flow to the heart and brain. If interested, learn more about how dental plaque bacteria may trigger blood clots.