How to manage plaque

When it comes to looking after your teeth, there is one thing you can manage at home – and that’s plaque. No matter how well structured your dental care regime is, we all develop plaque. However, it’s the build-up of plaque that causes long term issues and problems including decay and gum disease.

What is plaque?

Plaque is a sticky, colourless film of bacteria that forms on the top of your teeth. As it can’t be seen clearly by the human eye, it often goes unnoticed at home – and that’s part of the problem. However, you can feel plaque build-up on your teeth. Instead of feeling smooth to touch with your tongue, your teeth feel fuzzy instead. This will sound familiar to those of you that have skipped a tooth-brushing session before!

teeth with plaque buildup

Why does it form?

The film of bacteria builds as sugars and starches are eaten and left on the teeth. Whenever we eat sugary fruit, cakes, or sugary soft drinks, there will always be some residue that sticks to and begins to build up on your teeth. Unfortunately, bacteria love these foods and thrive on them, producing acids as a result.

As the plaque is sticky, it keeps the acids in contact with your teeth at all times. In turn, this leads to a number of dental health issues, such as tooth decay, and in the long-term there can be complications.

plaque diagram 

What are the dangers?

The breakdown of enamel from acids is probably the most common and obvious effect of plaque build-up. Decay will worsen over time and eventually, if not managed, fillings will be required.

Ultimately, plaque build-up can lead to gum disease too. The first step to gum disease is gingivitis – and if managed, you can prevent the problem from worsening. Gingivitis is essentially inflammation, and sometimes bleeding, of the gums and if left untreated will lead to periodontal disease.

With gum disease, your gum tissue will slowly pull away from the teeth, allowing bacteria to get under your gums and destroy the bone that supports the teeth. While this is problematic in itself, gum disease has also been linked with a number of other health problems, including heart disease, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.

 gum desease treatment

How can plaque build-up be prevented?

Luckily, plaque build-up is easily prevented with good dental care.

This includes:

toothbrush brushing teeth


For more information on dental care at home, visit your AP Smilecare dentist today. Contact us today to book your next appointment.

What measures have you introduced to improve your dental care this year? We’d love to know! Tell us in the comments below or share your new oral care regime with us over on Twitter @APSmilecare