There are a few more technical names for dental plaque, including bacterial plaque biofilm, dental biofilm, oral biofilm, and microbial plaque. Plaque is sticky, slimy, colorless, and it forms around teeth, but over time plaque turns into tartar if not removed. Plaque itself is rather easy to combat, but tartar is much more difficult to deal with. Plaque contains millions of bacteria which is why it can lead to unhealthy consequences. Aside from the bacteria itself plaque is also composed of the substances secreted by said bacteria. Generally when people think of plaque they imagine oral diseases like gum diseases and cavities, but plaque is natural and normal. Although plaque is impossible to avoid people can reduce its pervasiveness and effects.
Plaque forms naturally when a person eats. The bacteria that are found in plaque use the sugars in food and then create acids. These acids and adhesive chemicals are what prove dangerous to oral health. Foods which contain carbohydrates—starches or sugars—prove to be the worst when it comes to plaque. Candies, soft drinks, milk, and other similar foods help to feed the bacteria which lives in the mouth, therefor leading to more plaque. Foods that cling to the teeth are also problematic, especially opposed to foods that saliva just rinses away. Consuming a large amount of sugary drinks and snacks will certainly lead to a greater amount of decay. When a person eats these foods is not as important as how much a person eats.
Plaque tends to be more prevalent in certain tooth locations, particularly the back teeth. The rear teeth usually collect more plaque because of the groves in them. Aside from this the back teeth are also harder to access and harder to clean due to the groves. Plaque may also form along the the roots of teeth when gums begin to recede.
Obviously brushing and flossing helps to prevent plaque from building up. Without periodic oral hygiene practices there is not much to prevent plaque build up.
When there is not enough saliva it leads to a dry mouth, and this can be bad for oral health. Saliva keeps the mouth much cleaner by washing away plaque and food from the teeth. It even contains minerals and helps to prevent the growth of bacteria. Saliva also neutralizes acids which can be bad for oral health.
Another somewhat surprising source for plaque is bottled water. The fluoride which comes from public water supplies helps to decrease tooth decay and keep the mouth cleaner. Bottled or filtered water often does not contain fluoride, but sometimes it is added.
Healthy habits can significantly decrease the buildup of plaque. Of course, regularly brushing and flossing is a great place to start in order to keep plaque at bay. It is important to also make regular visits to the dentist to have teeth cleaned and checked. While there are foods a person can avoid which cause plaque, such as those high in carbs and starch, there are other foods which may actually clean teeth. Crunchy vegetables and fruit with the skins on them may help to scrub teeth and therefore clean plaque.