How to Treat Dental Plaque

Plaque is the thin, sticky film of bacteria that is permanently present on your teeth. Every time you eat, the bacteria release plaque acids that attack tooth enamel. These attacks on your teeth can potentially lead to decay and cavities.

If not removed by regular brushing, plaque hardens to form a yellow substance called tartar. Tartar is more difficult to remove than plaque. Plus, it can get under the gum line, causing gum disease.

The American Dental Association recommends following a daily oral care regime at home to keep plaque at bay.

  1. Buy a toothbrush with a head that’s small to medium, and with multi-tufted, round-ended nylon bristles that are soft to medium. Or, use an electric toothbrush with a small oscillating head.
  2. Choose a toothpaste containing fluoride. Different toothpaste products are formulated for different needs such as gum health, tartar control, sensitivity, and whitening, but most contain fluoride to prevent decay.
  3. Squeeze a pea-size amount of toothpaste onto your toothbrush.
  4. Place the head of your toothbrush against your teeth with the bristle tips tilted at a 45-degree angle to the gum line.
  5. Move the brush in small circular movements over all the surfaces of every tooth — including the insides and biting surfaces — for about two minutes. Avoid pressing too hard.
  6. Remove plaque and bacteria from your tongue by brushing it gently with your toothbrush.
  7. Wind roughly 18 inches of dental floss around the middle fingers of each hand. Hold the floss taut between your thumb and forefingers.
  8. Guide the floss between your teeth using a gentle “rocking motion”. Move the floss around each tooth up to the gum line.
  9. Rinse your mouth with clean water to clear plaque, bacteria, and food particles.
Andy Frith / Shutterstock
Andy Frith / Shutterstock