Dental plaque is a whitish sticky thin layer usually found visible on the borderline between the tooth and the gum.

Plaque consists of living bacteria, dead bacteria, dead body cells from the oral tissue, blood cells and products from the gum fluid1.

The longer the plaque stays on the surface of the tooth, the more it develops into a harmful product that can cause decay if exposed to sugar.

Therefore regular brushing prevents that from happening and keeps the mouth clean. See our topic Toothbrushing.

Plaque can also develop into calculus (tartar) that is a hard deposit on the tooth surface and is more difficult to get rid of. Bacteria in the plaque and calculus can cause gum disease. It is then necessary to see a dentist or a hygienist to clean the teeth.You can read more about the effect of plaque in our topics Gum Disease and Tooth Decay.

1 Fluid and plasma protein leaks into the plaque from the capillaries in the gums.

Reference: Egelberg, J. (1967). The topography and permeability of vessels at the dentogingival junction in dogs. Journal of Periodontal Research 2O, Supplement 1.