What causes dental plaque?
A healthy mouth is a diverse ecosystem of over 700 different types of bacteria. Most of those bacteria live in gingival crevices, the space between your teeth and gums. Bacteria that are specialized to survive in your mouth have evolved to adhere strongly to gum and tooth surfaces and can be difficult to remove as a result.
Dental plaque is a material that becomes attached to your teeth that forms from bacterial cells and bacterial extracellular products. Plaque forms when biofilms, groups of bacterial cells that stick together, are allowed to develop in the mouth. Buildup can be kept to a minimum by practicing regular oral hygiene that includes brushing and flossing. Some accumulation can still occur and is removed professionally during 6-month checkups.
In a healthy human body, the immune system keeps internal tissues free of microorganisms, however your oral cavity is regularly exposed to new sources of bacteria and requires regular cleaning. Bacteria reside in the gastrointestinal tracts, saliva, gums, deep layers of skin, and can even be introduced through the foods you eat. Most bacteria feed off of the sugars that are left behind after eating which is one of the reasons why eating sugary foods should be kept to a minimum. The balance of oral microflora directly reflects a persons overall health and diet.
Keeping biofilms in check is not just important for reducing plaque but overall oral health. Failure to practice good oral hygiene habits can result in numerous oral diseases including periodontal diseases (affecting gums and tissues supporting teeth) and caries (cavities).