Dental plaque is a biofilm or mass of bacteria that grows on surfaces within the mouth. It is a sticky colorless deposit at first, but when it forms tartar, it is often brown or pale yellow.
It is commonly found between the teeth, on the front of teeth, behind teeth, on chewing surfaces, along the gumline, or below the gumline cervical margins.
Dental plaque is also known as microbial plaque, oral biofilm, dental biofilm, dental plaque biofilm or bacterial plaque biofilm. Bacterial plaque is one of the major causes for dental decay and gum disease.
Progression and build-up of dental plaque can give rise to tooth decay the localised destruction of the tissues of the tooth by acid produced from the bacterial degradation of fermentable sugar and periodontal problems such as gingivitis and periodontitis.
Hence it is important to disrupt the mass of bacteria and remove it. Plaque control and removal can be achieved with correct daily or twice-daily tooth brushing and use of interdental aids such as dental floss and interdental brushes.
Oral hygiene is important as dental biofilms may become acidic causing demineralization of the teeth (also known as dental caries) or harden into dental calculus (also known as tartar).
Calculus cannot be removed through tooth brushing or with interdental aids, but only through professional cleaning.