Most people have heard about dental plaque but not everyone knows what it is.
Dental plaque is a thick sticky waterproof cream-colored coating that develops on teeth over time. It is made up of bacteria and their wastes with saliva components.
Sticky mucopolysaccharides are the mortar of dental plaque. They protect the bacteria by gluing the whole colony to tooth enamel and making them resistant to washing off with normal eating and drinking.
If you start with perfectly clean teeth, very quickly a glycoprotein coating called pellicle will coat the enamel. Because bacteria are still present in your mouth and will immediately stick to this pellicle on your tooth enamel.
The bacteria grow and grow until there are literally trillions of them. Usually it takes about 24 hours before there are enough to damage your teeth or gums.
After one to three days, another group of bacteria will stick to the first ones. This makes the plaque more complex with the wastes of some being the food of others.
After plaque has been on teeth for about a week, the dental plaque changes color and texture. Usually bacoming a dark yellow or light orange color, this plaque is very stiff and may need to be scraped off with a toothpick or dental instrument.
Lactic acid builds up in dental plaque and over time can dissolve the enamel surface of teeth. Cleaning off the dental plaque gives the enamel access to the minerals present in saliva that can restore enamel strength.
Streptococcus mutans is the most prevalent bacterium in dental plaque. This bacteria is especially good at converting sugars and starches into lactic acid and so it is responsible for most peoples cavities.
Other bacteria present in dental plaque above the gumline are:
Bacteria only found below the gums to avoid oxygen are:
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