Plaque is a sticky mix of bacteria and the substances they secrete. Bacteria produce adhesive chemicals called mucopolysaccharides. The bacteria then live in this film on teeth, called a biofilm. This slimy layer is fragile and easily removed by tooth brushing.
The bacteria in tooth plaque are free to release acids that damage tooth enamel. Regular acid assaults on enamel can wear holes in teeth, commonly called cavities. If left alone, plaque buildup also gradually hardens, creating tartar or calculus on your teeth.
Plaque Habit No. 1: Not Brushing Regularly
No one else might notice if you don’t brush your teeth twice a day, every day. But your teeth will.
Plaque Habit No. 2: Not Flossing Daily
Brushing doesn’t reach the spaces between teeth, but plaque does. A simple daily flossing between teeth clears away plaque before it can cause damage.
Plaque Habit No. 3: Avoiding the Dentist
Even if you brush and floss your teeth daily, you’ll miss some plaque. Over time, that plaque hardens into tartar that needs to be removed at your dentist’s office. Yet more than a third of people surveyed haven’t seen their dentist in more than a year.
Plaque Habit No. 4: Neglecting Nature’s Toothbrushes
Long before toothbrushes and fluoride toothpaste existed, certain foods played a role in keeping plaque off our teeth.
Plaque Habit No. 5: Indulging Your Sweet Tooth
Bacteria love simple carbohydrates like sugar. Eating candy or drinking sugary soft drinks lets sugar stick to our teeth, giving bacteria something to munch on. As the bacteria create a film of plaque, they digest sugar into acid, which damages teeth.