Dental plaque is a sticky substance that coats the surface of teeth. Plaque on teeth forms when bacteria in the mouth mix with starchy or sugary foods and beverages. Brushing teeth and flossing regularly can help to get rid of plaque (here’s how often you should brush teeth). If it is not removed, plaque can harden into tartar, which needs to be removed by a dental professional. But how can you tell if you have plaque? In other words, what does plaque look like?
How do you know if you have plaque on teeth?
It can be difficult to know that you have plaque on teeth simply by looking at your teeth because plaque is colorless. However, plaque can give your teeth a fuzzy feeling.
Also, because plaque is sticky, it can cause food particles to stick to the teeth surfaces. This can cause discoloration. When plaque hardens into tartar, it typically appears yellow.
Lastly, as the bacteria in plaque break down food particles, it can lead to an unpleasant smell. Therefore, halitosis or bad breath can be a sign of plaque on teeth.
If you have noticed signs and symptoms such as bad breath or yellow teeth, make an appointment to see your dentist without delay. There can be other causes for these problems besides plaque on teeth. A dental professional can get to the bottom of what is causing your symptoms and treat them accordingly.
How does plaque feel on teeth?
Plaque feels fuzzy on teeth. You can feel it with the tip of your tongue. It is most noticeable when you haven’t brushed your teeth.
How do you check for plaque on your teeth?
You can check for plaque on teeth by rinsing your mouth and using a hand-held light induced fluorescence device that emits ultraviolet light. However, these devices are not widely available. Your best bet is to go in for regular dental checkups. Your dentist will keep an eye on your teeth and perform a thorough professional cleaning to clean any existing plaque and tartar. Not sure you have the time for a dental visit? Here’s how long a professional cleaning takes (hint: it’s pretty quick!).
Will plaque on teeth go away?
Plaque on teeth goes away if you brush and floss regularly. However, once plaque has hardened into tartar, tartar removal has to be performed by a dental professional.
Is it safe to scrape off plaque?
Never attempt to scrape off plaque or tartar at home using sharp instruments. This can cause damage to delicate gum tissue. A dental professional such as a dentist or dental hygienist will use special instruments to carefully remove plaque and tartar without damaging your gums.
However, you can try something like coconut oil pulling, which may help to reduce plaque formation and gingivitis (gum inflammation). Some studies have found that oil pulling is safe and effective with minimal side effects.
Express Dentist has a nationwide network of trusted dental professionals. If you’ve fallen behind on routine dental checkups, we can help you get a dental appointment in your area. If work and family responsibilities do not allow you time for dental care, we may be able to get you a weekend or late-hours dental appointment so that you don’t have to let plaque on teeth go untreated.
About the author
Dr. Greg Grillo
Dr. Greg Grillo DDS studied at the University of Washington where he received a bachelors degree with Honors and later attended dental school on the same campus. Following school Dr. Greg served in the United States Navy as a dental officer. During this time he received advanced training in specialty areas of dentistry while also treating families of members of the military.
As well as sharing valuable information on dentistry and oral health, Dr. Greg remains a practicing dentist to this day. He works with families in the Okanogan Valley where he lives with his wife and three children.