Drs S & N Waddell Dental Practice

0121 427 7727      

Dental  Plaque

DENTAL PLAQUE is really the underlying cause of many of our dental problems.


It is simply a layer of fairly natural bacteria (commensals) that have overgrown in large numbers to form a visible layer around our teeth. We call it PLAQUE. It is sometimes also called a biofilm


Bacteria love our modern sugar and energy rich diets. They also like our continuous snacking habits and treats.


When we eat, they feed and when they feed, they double in numbers every 10 to 20 minutes,     2 become 4,

4 become 8,        8 become 16     and so on.    After a few hours we can count the original two in the thousands if not millions.


This means that even if your teeth were really clean first thing in the morning, after 24 hours there will be enough bacteria to start causing you damage.


Bacteria usually damage you in two ways;


If sugar is around, bacteria use it inefficiently as a food and convert some of it into a series of acids.  These acids eat into the enamel  and dentine of your teeth to cause cavities.

Equally some of the bacteria are able to view your gums as food particularly if there are enough of them present. This direct attack, accompanied by their waste products and toxins means that damage can start on the gum surface and between the teeth.


This in essence is the cause {aetiology] of tooth decay and gum disease. There are unusual other mechanisms but this page details the most common 90% plus of mechanisms by which we are damaged by plaque.


Having painted a picture of this relentless attack it may seem that we have no chance. However, experiments were done in the 1960s and they basically confirmed the above mechanisms BUT they also found that if your teeth were PERFECTLY CLEAN once in every 24 hours the bacteria never became numerous enough to start to damage you.


These days we all brush at least a couple of times a day but unfortunately we are rarely told CLEARLY where we are going wrong and why we still get the occasional cavity or bleeding gums.


Not enough importance is given to the areas between the teeth and all the little crevices and difficult to reach areas.

In reality, where else would the bacteria be hiding from all our efforts to remove them.


What this means is that a quick brush that reaches some flat surface areas some of the time and never touches the areas between our teeth or right at the back of our mouth is going to be hopeless.


You need a decent toothbrush, you need a decent methodical brushing technique and you need time to do the job properly. If you want perfection you will need  an interdental brush system that you understand. Floss has limited use.


Time.... minimum of 3 to 5 minutes once a day... brush more if you like but if you were very thorough the first time, you are just making your mouth feel that little bit fresher.


I have heard of the concept of OVERBRUSHING..this is incredibly rare... what is common is INCORRECT BRUSHING and UNDERBRUSHING. Unfortunately mentioning the former tends to induce the latter. If your technique is correct, you are usually safe.


PLEASE do not expect a mouthwash to reliably get to those hard to reach places or to penetrate into interdental spaces full of plaque. I am very concerned that mouthwashes may be perceived as a substitute to proper brushing.