Tooth Plaque

The bacteria in plaque can be two types. The first type lives above the gum line and needs oxygen to survive. The second does not need oxygen to survive and can live under the gum line.

  • Sugar and starches in food  can cause plaque to form on your teeth
  • Plaque can build underneath the gums, and the flossing is the best way to remove it.
  • It is sticky, has no color, and can feel funny on your teeth when you haven’t brushed properly.
  • Plaque is a build up of bacteria, which is a normal process that occurs, but should be brushed away.
  • Calculus is the hardening of plaque and cannot be removed by brushing.
  • Plaque is about 80-90% water and the remaining consists mostly of bacteria.


Tooth Plaque is a colorless film that builds up on your teeth naturally. When we eat, the sugars and starches in food are left on our teeth. This is enough for plaque to start forming on your teeth. It is a sticky, colorless film that you can begin to feel on your teeth if you have not brushed recently.  If plaque is left on the tooth surface for too long,  it can harden into a substance we call tartar or calculus. Calculus cannot be removed by brushing or flossing, therefore, you will need to see your dentist to have the calculus removed.  This process is called scaling and root planning (which can also be known as a “deep cleaning”).

Visiting your dentist on a regular basis for checkups and cleanings can help remove plaque and calculus. Brushing and flossing helps to remove the plaque that builds up on your teeth each day.