The Problem with Plaque

Why this commonly used dental term should not be ignored.

Most of us will have heard our dentist mention plaque, during our regular dental examinations at Blue Sky Dental. Equally, it is sometimes mentioned on TV, during the advertising any of a number of brands of toothpaste. Some patients though do not seem to understand what plaque is, with some feeling that it is something along the lines of a built up calcium deposit. Nothing could be further from the truth though.


Plaque is actually a mass of bacteria that grows in our mouths. It is there all of the time, but, with good oral health, is manageable. At times, the amount of this bacteria can increase and become more noticeable. Some patients may have experienced this on waking with a dry mouth and noticing a slime like, almost mucous film on their teeth. This is actually a pre-cursor to plaque.

Plaque can not only be found on the teeth themselves, but also in the gum pockets and on dental applications such as dentures or dental bridges. This is why it is important to ensure that these are kept clean.

The same applies to the dental implants that we place at our Chelmsford dentist in Essex. Although the implants won’t deteriorate, gum disease can affect the bone structure which holds the implants in place and could cause them to potentially fail.

Prevention and treatment

Although this ‘slimy film’ may just feel unpleasant, it can in fact be very harmful and is a significant factor in the onset of gum disease. Whilst the early stages of gum disease (gingivitis) can be uncomfortable and unpleasant, often revealing itself in sore or bleeding gums; it is in its later stages (periodontitis) that it does its real damage by attacking the bone in the jaw. This inevitably results in the increased risk of tooth loss due to the bone’s inability to hold them firmly in place.

Because of this; as well as the obvious brushing and flossing, it is important to have your teeth checked by the dentist or hygienist at Blue Sky Dental so that any problems can be dealt with early on. If caught very early, any treatment may be no more than simply suggestions about how to manage it yourself. This is likely to involve suggestions on how to brush more effectively, as well as guidance on flossing to enable removal of the plaque between your teeth.

If plaque build up has started to get a little out of control, a scale and polish may be needed to remove the hardened bacteria from the teeth and gums. This is a relatively minor, if important, procedure that we carry out at our Chelmsford dental practice and should cause little concern.

Where the plaque has become very advanced, it may be necessary to carry out the above procedure, but in a deeper manner, going beneath the gum line. This is not a painful procedure but one which patients don’t always find comfortable. In some cases, a local anaesthetic may be given to enable us to carry this procedure out effectively.

Above all though, prevention of plaque build up can be deterred through good quality brushing and flossing of the teeth and gums and by paying our Essex dental practice a visit at least twice a year so that we can monitor any plaque build up as well as monitoring your general oral health.

To make an appointment with us, please call Blue Sky Dental on 01245 211070.

Leave a Reply