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Plaque

Clinical Overview


Reviewed by: Dr. Kristen Dority

A sticky substance that accumulates on the teeth, plaque is often responsible for the rise of cavities (dental caries) and for inflammation of the gums (gingivitis). A sticky substance that accumulates on the teeth, plaque is often responsible for the rise of cavities (dental caries) and for inflammation of the gums (gingivitis). Plaque is composed of mucin derived from saliva and of bacteria and their by-products. Plaque that is not removed with thorough regular brushing and flossing between teeth can eventually harden into calculus or tartar. Once this hardening takes place, brushing and cleaning between teeth becomes more difficult because tartar collects above the gum line where tissue can become swollen or may bleed (gingivitis). Thus, poor dental hygiene and the build-up of plaque can result not only in dental caries or cavities, but also gingivitis which is a precursor to the more serious periodontal disease.

Last updated: May-03-07

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