Dr. Tal Lewinger Dental NewsDr. Tal Lewinger is a general dentist and owner of Marketplace Dentistry in Vaughan, Ontario practising eco-responsible (and fun) family and cosmetic dentistry and

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What is Dental Plaque

Tal Lewinger - Friday, January 19, 2018

Plaque is a mass of bacteria or a biofilm which grows on surfaces of the mouth. It is a sticky and colorless deposit in the beginning but will possess a brown or pale yellow color due to the formation of tartar and is commonly found in between the teeth, behind the teeth, the front of the teeth, along the gum line, on the chewing surface or below the cervical gum line margins. Plaque is also known as oral biofilm, microbial plaque, dental biofilm, bacterial plaque biofilm or dental plaque biofilm. Plaque is usually associated with many other oral diseases such as gum diseases (periodontal diseases) and caries and the formation cannot be prevented as it is a normal process.


Plaque leads to the formation of dental caries which is the localized destruction of the surrounding tissues of the tooth by the acid produced from the degradation of the bacteria of fermentable sugar. It can also give rise to some of the periodontal problems like periodontitis and gingivitis. It's build up and progression leads to many oral problems and therefore it is very important to disrupt and remove the bacteria daily. The removal and plaque control can be achieved by brushing the teeth correctly and also with the use of interdental acids such as interdental brushes and dental floss.


The removal of the dental biofilm is very important as there is a chance of the biofilm to be acidic and cause demineralization of the teeth or harden into the calculus. Calculus can be removed through professional cleaning and regular tooth brushing or using interdental fluids will not help in the removal. The gum diseases and the development of caries will be prevented once the dental biofilm is removed.


Plaque is a dental biofilm which gets attached to the tooth surfaces, prosthetic appliances, and restorations if not given proper care. To control the development of plaque, understanding the composition, formation, and the characteristics of plaque are very important.


Components of Plaque:


There are many different kinds of bacteria existing in the oral cavity in the mouth. These bacteria and neutrophils, lymphocytes, leukocytes, and macrophages are part of the normal cavity and contributes a lot to an individual’s health. About 90% of the plaque is just water. Dry bacteria constitutes about 70% and the remaining 30% consists of glycoproteins and polysaccharides.




The equilibrium position of the bacteria varies at the different stages of its formation.

  • Early biofilm
  • Older biofilm
  • Undisturbed for 4-5 days
  • 7-14 days undisturbed.

Supragingival biofilm


This is a type of a plaque which is formed above the gums. You can see this kind of plaque just after brushing your teeth. It is commonly formed in the pits and grooves of the teeth, between the teeth and along the gums. It is actually made of aerobic bacteria and so it needs oxygen to survive.


Subgingival biofilm


The type of plaque located under the gums is termed as a subgingival biofilm. This is actually a follow-up process and takes place just from the formation of supragingival biofilm from above the gums to below.



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