What is Plaque on Teeth? – Cause, Treatment & Prevention

Plaque on teeth is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on the tooth surface. Poor oral hygiene leads to a continuous deposit of plaque on teeth surface and with time it solidifies into tarter. Dental plaque is the main cause of cavities and gum disease. Following a proper oral hygiene regime will avoid cavity and gum disease. Coconut oil mouth rise, chewing guava leaves, etc. are some simple home remedies to get rid of plaque on teeth.

You should visit a dentist at least two times a year for a professional checkup and cleanup. In this article, you will know what is plaque on teeth in detail with cause, treatment options, and prevention.


What is plaque on teeth?

Dental plaque is a soft, sticky film of bacteria that builds up on teeth surface as soon as you are done with eating. The color of plaque may range from colorless to pale yellow. Plaque regularly forms on teeth. If you don’t get rid of plaque by regular brushing and flossing, then it will lead to tartar buildup and other gum diseases. Plaque also causes caries or cavity.

You can easily remove plaque by regular brushing. However, if plaque accumulates and forms tartar, then it cannot be removed by simple brushing. Tarter can cause reddish and swollen gums which are symptoms of gingivitis. Although, this condition is reversible.

Difference between plaque and tartar

When calcium in the saliva binds with plaque, it solidifies to form tartar or calculus. As we told you before that plaque can be easily removed by regular brushing whereas tarter cannot. Only dental cleaning is way out to get rid of tartar. The most common site of tarter is the inside surfaces of lower front teeth.

What does plaque look like on teeth?

It is difficult to identify plaque on teeth is in the initial stage since plaque is colorless. When plaque on teeth becomes a thick white layer, it becomes visible. Those who smoke or drink too much coffee or tea will also have stained teeth. In such cases, the plaque on teeth will appear pale yellow.

Plaque disclosing tablets are available in the nearby medical store to check for plaque deposit. Once you the area of plaque deposition, you can brush effectively. Remember, do not brush vigorously as it can lead to enamel erosion.

Causes of plaque on teeth

Saliva, starchy food, and sugary fluids combine in the mouth to make an environment conducive for bacteria to grow and accumulate in the tooth and gums (especially the region where teeth and gums meet).

Food like milk, candy, cake and soft drinks are significant contributors to dental plaque. You cannot avoid the formation of dental plaque. So, it is better to take care of oral hygiene to prevent plaque and tartar formation.

How to prevent plaque on teeth?

You cannot prevent plaque on teeth. But you can avoid tartar buildup by following a few steps –

  • Daily brush your teeth at least two times. Also, floss daily or every alternate day (1)(2).
  • Clean your tongue with a tongue cleaner. Bacteria accumulation in the tongue helps in plaque build up too.
  • Visit your dentist every six months to keep plaque-related diseases at bay.
  • Use a good quality tooth-brush and change your brush every three months. An electronic toothbrush is an even better choice (3).
  • Avoid smoking to reduce the risk of plaque and tartar buildup.
  • Use mouthwash once daily to help keep the difficult to reach areas clean (4).
  • Eat a healthy balanced meal and also avoid frequently snacking in between meals. Less sugar will reduce the amount of plaque formation.

Plaque on teeth risks

Long-standing plaque causes diseases like gingivitis, bad breath, periodontal problems, and cavities. Gingivitis is inflammation of gums and a reversible disease. As we have read before, plaque leads to tartar build-up. So, this combines will poor oral hygiene then it can further cause gum recession and even tooth loss. Plaque does not cause periodontal problems, but it is the starting point of gum disease.

Home remedies to remove plaque on teeth

No treatment or home remedies can replace good oral practices like regular brushing and flossing. But still, you can combine it with several home remedies to get rid of plaque on teeth and have a healthy set of teeth.

Coconut oil pulling

Swish one tablespoon of extra virgin coconut oil every day for 10-15 minutes in the morning before any meal. Do not swallow or gargle with the oil. Spit it out and rinse your mouth with cold or lukewarm water. In addition to oil pulling, you can also massage your gums with coconut oil. Warm sesame oil is an alternative to coconut oil (5).

Baking soda

This kitchen shelf ingredient removes plaque and also whitens teeth. Baking soda neutralizes the acidic pH of the oral cavity and helps to reduce the count of harmful bacteria in the mouth. Put a small amount of baking soda on your wet toothbrush and brush your teeth. Rinse your mouth with lukewarm water followed by regular brushing. Do this once or twice a week. Remember, frequent use of baking soda will cause wearing off of enamel.

White vinegar

White vinegar has acetic acid which helps prevent demineralization of enamel. It reduces plaque accumulation and tartar buildup and has antimicrobial properties. Mix two teaspoons of white vinegar and one teaspoon of salt in half cup of warm water and rinse your mouth with this mixture once a day.



Both the guava fruit and its leaves act as anti-plaque agents. Wash some tender guava leaves and chew them. Spit it out after one or two minutes. Repeat this process at least once a day to avoid the risk of plaque accumulation (5).

Treatment after tartar formation

  • If plaque becomes tartar, you will have gum inflammation along with redness and bleeding of gums. In such cases, visit a dentist before gingivitis becomes a more serious issue.
  • The dentist will perform oral prophylaxis to remove the plaque, tartar, and bacteria. Oral prophylaxis will include scaling. In some cases, the treatment might consist of root planing if tartar build-up is below the gum line.
  • Overcrowded or misaligned teeth are inaccessible to regular brushing and flossing. Ill-fitting crowns or poorly done restoration lead to plaque accumulation. Therefore, you should visit an orthodontist for getting a proper fix of crowding of teeth, poorly fitted crowns and restoration.

Over to you

You must brush twice daily, floss regularly and follow above home remedies to keep plaque on teeth at bay. Also, do not neglect your yearly dental appointments even if everything seems to be normal. The home remedies could work to some extent, but it is always better to have a professional monitoring once in a while to help diagnose any disease that springs up despite all good measures.


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