Comprehensive guide to dental plaque: Causes and treatment of plaque buildup and the importance of plaque prevention

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Dental Plaque / Tartar


What is Plaque:

Dental plaque is a sticky, colorless and soft deposit that continually forms around and between teeth. It is made up of invisible masses of harmful germs that live in the mouth and stick to the teeth.

Plaque may be a sign of poor digestion, mostly a lack of HCl - a hydrochloric acid that increases the effectiveness of pepsin by lowering the pH to the level where pepsin is most active and best able to break apart the proteins in the food we eat. Therefore, the answer is e. For a, excess HCl may cause heartburn, but that's not why we have i

Some types of plaque cause tooth decay, while other types of plaque cause gum disease.

If dental plaque is not removed and accumulates, it can harden and turn into calculus (tartar).

Plaque can develop:

  • on teeth above the gum line (supragingival);
  • below the gum line on the roots of teeth (subgingival); and
  • along the gum line (gingival).


What does it do ...

Any plaque that isn't removed during regular tooth brushing will build up in a thick layer. Those microorganisms nearest the tooth surface start to produce acids.

  • These acids lead to demineralization of the adjacent tooth surface (dental caries). The saliva is unable to penetrate the build-up of plaque and, therefore, cannot neutralize the acid produced by the bacteria, nor can it remineralize the tooth surface.
  • Plaque causes irritation of the gums around the teeth leading to inflammation of the gums (gingivitis). Continued plaque accumulation contributes to gum recession, bone loss, and tooth loss.


What causes Plaque:

Tooth-decaying oral bacteria utilize sugars (glucose, sucrose, fructose, lactose or cooked starches) as their food source. During the process of digesting these sugars, they produce acids as waste products. These acids are produced within minutes after eating or drinking and cause the demineralization of tooth enamel and dentin. It can take several hours for saliva to penetrate the layers of dental plaque and neutralize the acids.

Plaque that is only a few hours old will not be cause as much tooth demineralization as plaque which is several days old.

Plaque is the major cause of tooth decay and gum disease (gingivitis).


Home Testing for Plaque:

  • Plaque is difficult to see as it is initially whitish colored, like teeth. However, home dental plaque identification tests are available at drugstores and grocery stores. They consist of tablets that stain plaque red thus making them more visible. Alternatively, you can smear green food coloring on your teeth using a cotton swab. The red or green color will show you where there is still plaque, allowing you to see whether and when more brushing is needed.



  • Brushing - Twice Daily:
    • The best way to avoid the buildup of dental plaque is with a thorough brushing to break up the plaque that naturally accumulates on and around the teeth
    • When brushing your teeth, do not scrub hard back and forth as this will be harmful to your teeth. Best are small circular motions and short back and forth motions.
    • Over-the-counter toothpastes commonly contain harmful ingredients. Please click here to learn about better alternatives.

  • Rinsing / Multiple Times:
    • Rinse often throughout the day - particularly after a meal or sugar drinks.

  • Flossing - Daily:
    • Floss daily to remove germs and food particles between teeth. Floss gently and ease the floss into place carefully to avoid harming your gums.

  • Brush the tongue - Daily
    • Food residues and those microorganisms causing dental disease are all naturally present in the oral cavity - including the tongue. If you only brush the teeth, the teeth will soon be contaminated by whatever is on the tongue. It's important to remove all food residues -- including those on the tongue. It's particularly vital at night.

  • Diet
    • Eat a balanced diet.
    • Avoid sugary and starchy foods.
    • Limit the number of snacks you eat throughout the day.
    • Rinse after each meal or sugary beverage.

  • Don't smoke or chew tobacco: Smokers have more of the harmful bacteria that cause periodontal disease. Additionally, studies have shown that the chemicals in tobacco can slow down the healing process. Smokers don't heal as well after periodontal treatment as nonsmokers. Smokeless tobacco also can cause gums to recede and increase the chance of losing the bone and fibers that hold teeth in place.

  • Excessive build-up of plaque and plaque below the gum line will need to be removed by a dentist. Planar root scaling and/or "root planing" may be necessary to remove plaque and calculus from around the roots of teeth and in the gum pockets. The gums cannot tighten up against something that is covered with hardened plaque. However, root scaling is quite harsh on both the teeth and the gums. Existing gum pockets still need to be addressed - as they allow food, bacteria and other debris to accumulate below the gum line.


Alternative / Holistic Treatments:

  • The natural abrasive properties of Black Walnut Powder effectively removes dental plaque and its anti-inflammatory powers soothe swollen gums.

  • hydrogen peroxide and baking soda: Baking soda increases alkalinity in the mouth, thereby neutralizing acids produced by the bacteria responsible for dental plaque and tooth decay. Baking soda is also a mild abrasive and whitens teeth. Do make sure to only use aluminum-free baking soda (such as Bob's Red Mill Baking Soda). Hydrogen peroxide cleans, whitens and disinfects. Mix Hydrogen Peroxide with baking soda until it is a paste. Use as you would common toothpaste.
    • NOTE: Do not swallow any hydrogen peroxide and keep the hydrogen peroxide out of your eyes. Read the label carefully and follow the directions. The 3% hydrogen peroxide is not "food grade" and may contain other ingredients that are not intended for internal consumption.

  • Oil of Oregano: Dental plaque and gum disease can be prevented with the oral application of oregano oil because of its anti-bacterial properties. Swish one or two drops in your mouth, or put a drop on your toothbrush when cleaning your teeth.

  • herbal rinse consisting of Echinacea, Goldenseal, Calendula, Aloe, Bloodroot and Grapefruit Seed Extract, used diligently several times a day, was able to reduce plaque by 50 percent and reduced gum pockets by 1 to 2 mm.

  • Massage with oil of eucalyptus.

  • Bilberry fruit and hawthorn berry stabilize collagen, strengthening the gum tissue.

  • Licorice root promotes anti-cavity action, reduces plaque and has an antibacterial effect.

  • Dr. Schultz Tooth and Gum Formula is a powerful liquid formulation of various herbs which are effective in cases of receding gums, rotting teeth, as well as diseased dental bone. The botanicals in that formula serve to reduce inflammation, stop bleeding gums, and tighten the surrounding gum tissue so as to prevent plaque and debris from reaching below the gum line.


    * 10 oz Echinacea Tincture
    * ¼ cup Tea tree oil
    * 4 oz Bayberry tincture
    * 2 oz Oak Gall (or 3x oak bark) tincture
    * 2 Tablespoons Cayenne tincture
    * 2.5 dropperfuls Peppermint oil
    * 2.5 dropperfuls Clove oil

    You can also purchase the ingredients separately and mix together yourself. Best added to your water pik - place 4 to 6 full droppers of the formula into a water pick reservoir along with warm water. Alternatively, you can add 2 full droppers to 2 ounces of water and rinse your mouth thoroughly by swishing and straining the solution through your teeth. This formula can also be massaged directly, full strength, into the gums using a cotton swab. Add a drop or two to your toothbrush. If done daily you should notice gum bleeding halts within 1 week.


Causes & Treatments of Tooth Infections (Alternatives to Root Canals)

Path to a Healthy Mouth

Tips for brushing & rinsing your mouth the RIGHT WAY - Save Money & Avoid Toxins

Common Dental Health Problems

Saliva is the body’s most important protection against tooth decay.

Types of Tooth Pain


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Information contained on this website is provided as general reference only. For application to specific circumstances, professional advice should be sought.

GreenAndHealthy.Info strives to maintain accurate and up-to-date information; however, mistakes do happen. If you would like to correct or update any of the information, please send us an e-mail. THANK YOU!