Dental Plaque

Dental plague develops on the tooth surface in the form of colorless, soft biofilm. Sometimes, plague can be colored as well. It is a sticky substance that accumulates between and around the teeth. Bacteria are gummed together by secretions and mucus released by some of them, creating a filmy layer. The soft plague hardens within 48 hours after the bacteria have reached the teeth. In ten days, the plague turns into tartar or dental calcium which is difficult to remove. Tooth decay or dental caries may develop as a result of the accumulation of dental plague. The tooth tissue is damaged by the process of fermentable sugarsí degradation as a result of which acids are produced. Dental plague is also associated with conditions such as chronic periodontitis and gingivitis.

In fact, dental plague and plague-associated dental conditions are very common. Plague develops in seven out of ten adults who have teeth. Gingivitis can be observed even in persons aged 15 to 18.

Dental plague contains bacteria and extracellular matrix. The most common bacteria in the biofilm are anaerobes and Streptococcus mutans, but the composition varies depending on location. Different aerobes are contained in plague such as actinobacteria and fusobacterium. In fact, over 400 bacteria have been found in dental plague. It also contains leukocytes, epithelial cells, and macrophages, together with the bacterial cells. The extracellular matrix, on the other hand, contains lipids, long-chain polysaccharides, and proteins.

Once bacteria have colonized the tooth surface, plague accumulates in two ways. The bacteria found on the surface multiply or new bacterial species are subsequently attached to them and multiply.

The bacteria present in plague are also contained in the mouth cavity. They are typically harmless unless left to accumulate. Brushing removes plague effectively. Studies reveal that powered toothbrushes remove debris and plague more effectively than the regular brushes. If you canít use a toothbrush, it is best to see a dental hygienist or a dentist. Flossing is also effective in removing plague if done 3 or more times a week. Smoking is generally not recommended.

It should be remembered that food residues cause tooth decay. This is especially true for sweets. Food residues should be removed by brushing and flossing. To keep your teeth clean, it is also a good idea to avoid between-meal snacks. If you canít go without one, opt for raw vegetables and fruits, cheese, or plain yoghurt. Some vegetables (e.g. celery) remove food particles and help eliminate the plague-causing acids.

Some areas in the mouth cavity are difficult to reach and clean effectively, and plague starts maturing there. In this case, calcified plague develops and sticks firmly to the teethís surface. Saliva cannot penetrate through the accumulated plague as to neutralize the acid that bacteria produce. In addition, the tooth surface cannot be mineralized. Once the layer has become very thick, the bacteria found on the bottom start respiring anaerobically due to the lack of oxygen. While this is a great survival trick, anaerobic respiration triggers the production of acids that damage the teethís surface.

Regular brushing is not effective in removing it, and it is best to see your dentist. Having dental checks on a regular basis is important. Your dentist will spot the excessive accumulation of dental plague and remove calcium from the teethís surface. The dentist will also detect mild or early gingivitis and offer treatment options. This way, the development of severe periodontitis can be effectively prevented.


The information provided in this article does not constitute medical advice and should not be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. If you have a health problem you should consult a licensed physician.

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