Plaque and Calculus

Plaque

Plaque is a colorless, sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on our teeth and along the gum line. Plaque contains a variety of different types of bacteria, which is the main cause of cavities and various gum diseases.

Plaque begins forming on teeth in as little as 4 minutes after tooth brushing. Rate of plaque formation and location at which it develops might vary from individual to individual and between different teeth in same oral cavity.

Plaque build up starts at the tooth area where the gums meet the tooth.

Calculus

If proper and regular cleaning of plaque is not done, plaque can subsequently harden/calcify and forms tartar/calculus.

Unlike plaque, calculus is easy to see, as it is yellowish/brown hard deposits on tooth surface. Such hard deposits cannot be removed by brushing alone and one may require professional cleaning for their removal.

Harmful Effects

Plaque when not removed from teeth and gum line can cause irritation to the gums and may lead to gingivitis (swollen gums) and periodontal diseases.

Prevention

Proper brushing and flossing are required to reduce plaque and calculus build up.

Interdental aids like floss, wooden picks and interdental brushes are available to remove plaque from between the teeth areas.

Some people are heavy calculus formers while others form little or no calculus. This might be due to difference in salivary composition, type of plaque bacteria and dietary factors.

Regular dental checkups and professional cleaning every six months might keep in check the calculus formation and development of oral diseases.

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