Meaning of Plaque

Caries, periodontitis, inflammation of the gums and bad breath – the bacterial cultures that are responsible for this damage in the mouth form in the plaque, the biofilm on teeth and gums. Find out which measures reliably help against dental plaque.

  • Plaque or biofilm is the furry-soft, whitish-gray or yellowish plaque that consists of food residues, body cells and saliva as well as 60 to 80 percent bacteria.
  • If the plaque is not removed regularly, it provides a dangerous breeding ground for bacteria.
  • Coloring tablets can help show the extent and areas of plaque affected.
  • Daily teeth cleaning – twice a day with a toothbrush and once a day with dental floss – can be supported with regular antibacterial mouth rinsing solutions and two professional tooth cleanings per year.

Plaque definition

Plaque or biofilm is the soft but tough, whitish-gray or yellowish plaque that contains food residues, body cells and saliva and forms an ideal breeding ground for micro-organisms. Palpated with the tongue, plaque feels rough or furry against the smooth tooth surfaces.

According to, the preliminary stage is the so-called materia alba, the soft covering made of dead oral mucosa and blood cells as well as microorganisms. In colonies, bacteria, fungi and viruses settle in the biofilm. Bacteria such as Streptococcus mutans, which convert the sugars in food into acids, are dangerous for dental health. These demineralize the tooth and attack the gums. Then tooth decay or periodontal disease develop .

Is it the one or the plaque?

According to Duden, plaque is exclusively a feminine noun. So it’s called the plaque.

Various plaques

In vascular medicine, the arteriosclerosis deposits of calcium, blood lipids and other blood components on the walls of the arteries are also referred to as plaques . Another medical use of the term plaque relates to the deposits of beta amyloid called senile plaques, which in Alzheimer’s disease accumulate in certain areas of the gray matter of the brain such as the cerebral cortex and amygdala.

How is plaque created?

The first, initial biofilm that forms after thoroughly brushing your teeth is part of the healthy oral flora and not yet harmful. It covers the teeth like a protective layer of saliva with proteins and minerals and protects against acid attacks, mineral loss and abrasion. From this initial biofilm, the accumulation and settlement of microorganisms creates the white, still loose materia alba, which can still be easily removed and rinsed off. As a result of the increasing complexity of the covering in hard-to-reach areas with rich deposits of food, the tough, microbial plaque forms, which can no longer be rinsed off, but only removed with a toothbrush or dental floss.

If minerals from the saliva accumulate in the biofilm over time, so that the deposits harden and can no longer be removed by normal oral hygiene at home, this is called tartar .

Plaque – make dental plaque visible with coloring tablets

To make the extent and the areas affected by plaque visible, the plaque can be colored. This means that a new brushing technique or the use of dental floss can be prepared sensibly.

For example, coloring tablets with erythrosine make plaque visible. Erythrosine is approved as a food coloring, but contains high concentrations of iodine and is suspected of causing allergies in the case of iodine intolerance.

Coloring tablets, which even contain two colorings with brilliant blue and phloxin B or tetrachlorotetrabromofluorescein, color stubborn and fresher deposits in different colors. This means that the most problematic and inaccessible areas in the mouth for cleaning are shown separately.

In many dental practices it is possible to make plaque plaque visible with a solution containing fluorescein under UV light. The dyes crystal violet or fuchsine, which were previously used for rinsing solutions, contain amines that have been found to be harmful to health and even carcinogenic if used frequently.

Remove and prevent plaque

In addition to the daily oral hygiene mouthwashes and professional dental cleanings can help prevent plaque removed and so it finally not to tooth decay, periodontal disease and gingivitis may occur.

  • To prevent bacterial growth in the toothbrush, rinse the brush thoroughly under a water jet after each use and replace it with a new toothbrush after two months to ensure hygienic teeth cleaning.
  • Use toothpaste that contains fluoride so that the enamel can be strengthened. This helps prevent tooth decay.
  • Antibacterial mouth rinses such as chlorhexidine can slow plaque build-up and reduce dental plaque.
  • Professional teeth cleaning should be carried out once or twice a year, as this enables the plaque to be removed thoroughly.
  • Avoid sugary drinks or food as much as possible, as this promotes bacterial growth in the mouth.
  • Immediately after a sweet snack, teeth should be thoroughly brushed.

Plaque bacteria

Micro-organisms find ideal conditions and protection in plaque. 60 to 80 percent of the biofilm consists of bacteria – up to a thousand different strains can be found in plaque. If they are not regularly decimated by dental hygiene measures, the bacteria will multiply strongly.

The so-called supragingival plaque on the gums and teeth consists of “harmless” aerobic bacteria that need oxygen when the plaque is removed regularly. If the plaque bacteria are not removed for a longer period of time or if they penetrate the gingival pockets (subgingival plaque), the anaerobic bacteria that cause more severe diseases such as tooth decay and periodontal disease develop.