Plaque, known among dentists as "oral biofilm," is caused by bacteria growing inside your mouth. Bacteria have a field day in warm, moist environments, and, if you ask them, it's even better when high-carb foods containing sugar and starches are left on the teeth. That's when they really go to town.
How Do I Get Rid of this Stuff?
Plaque is normal and can't be prevented, although it can be managed. It presents as a sticky, whitish layer of slime that coats your teeth and, if left undisturbed, can start to harden. This is what the dental technician literally chips away at when your teeth are being cleaned.
Brushing twice daily and flossing before bed will disrupt the environment enough that plaque won't be able to take hold. When you brush, pay special attention to the area where your teeth and gums meet, and use your toothbrush in gentle circular motions to dislodge food particles.
Don't Let Plaque Become Gum Disease
If you don't practice good oral hygiene, plaque can harden in between your teeth and turn into tartar.
When tartar starts to take hold at the gum line, maintaining healthy dental habits becomes more difficult as the tissue gets sensitive, swollen, and possibly even bleeds when you brush your teeth. Left unchecked, these issues can lead to bigger problems like gum disease.
Red and Green Teeth (for Any Season)
One way to determine the level of plaque in your mouth is by chewing red "disclosing tablets" from the drug store, or by using a cotton swab to stain your teeth with green food coloring. The red or green left behind will highlight where plaque remains and where you need to get back into the ring for another round with your toothbrush.
Plaque will never go away, but as long as you are willing to battle it daily with good dental habits, you'll emerge victorious every time.