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What is Dental Plaque?

August 22, 2014

Dental plaque is a transparent biofilm that develops naturally on the teeth. It is formed by bacteria in the mouth attempting to attach to the tooth's smooth surface. As the main cause of cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease, dental plaque can harden into tartar if not removed daily. It can be removed by regular brushing and flossing, if done daily.

Keeping plaque off your teeth isn't complicated, but consistency is key," says Richard Price, DMD, spokesman for the American Dental Association. "Good habits make for healthy teeth -- for most people, it’s that simple."

Brushing and flossing become more difficult as tartar collects at the gum line. As the tartar, plaque and bacteria continue to increase, the gum tissue can become red and swollen.


Good oral hygiene helps to keep plaque down and usually prevents gum disease and can help prevent tooth decay.

  • Brush your teeth - brush at least twice a day either just before eating or within an hour after eating
  • Floss your teeth - clean between your teeth after brushing at least once a day, but ideally twice a day
  • Limit sugary foods - especially sugary drinks and sugary snacks
  • Schedule regular dental visits - regular professional cleanings and dental examinations can help prevent disease

If you have periodontitis, you should see a dentist. In addition to the measures described above to treat gingivitis you may need special types dental treatment. If you are in the Indianapolis area, please contact Dr. Ted Reese, DDS, a gentle, sedation dentist that practices holistic dentistry at 317-882-0228.