What is dental plaque?
Dental plaque is a soft deposit that accumulates on the teeth. The buildup of dental
plaque on teeth is a normal physiologic process, occurring in both healthy mouths, and
mouths with cavities or gum disease. Plaque is natural and contributes to disease
resistance by stimulating our immune defense system. However, like a two edged
sword, plaque on teeth can also favor the development of dental diseases.
The statements and information on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration
and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. The body's ability and power to heal
depends upon the totality of diet, nutrition, lifestyle and environmental factors. No claims for the cure of any
disease is intended, or implied. Always consult a health care practitioner when dealing with disease states.
What are the causes of dental plaque and how does it form?
Dental plaque starts when bacteria that are usually present in the mouth attach to teeth
and begin multiplying. Plaque can form on teeth both above the gum line, where it is
called supragingival plaque, or below the gum line on the roots of teeth, where it is named
subgingival plaque. The bacteria adhere to a clear sticky substance from saliva, called
glycoprotein, which binds almost immediately to the surface of a freshly cleaned tooth.
The combination of bacteria and glycoprotein on the tooth surface is called a pellicle or
The creation of pellicle is the first step in plaque formation. At this stage the
microorganisms present in dental plaque are generally harmless, and the plaque biofilm is
colorless and almost invisible. Many of the bacteria function to the benefit of the person
on whose teeth they are living, by inhibiting the growth of potential disease related germs.
By the time twenty four hours have passed, different types of microorganisms are living in
the pellicle as the plaque thickens and builds up to measurable levels. Now it appears as
a soft, gooey substance that sticks to the teeth a bit like jam sticks to a spoon. It is in fact,
made up of colonies of germs or microorganisms, such as bacteria, protozoa,
mycoplasma, yeasts and viruses clumped together in a gel-like organic material,
composed of bacterial byproducts, including sugar, white blood cells, food debris and
After approximately one week of plaque accumulation, the microscopic appearance of
dental plaque reveals bacterial cells of many different shapes and patterns, as well as the
other microorganisms already mentioned. It has been estimated that as many as 400
distinct species of bacteria may be found in plaque. The most common forms are round
shaped germs, or cocci, which can be found singly, in clumps, or grouped end to end in
chain like fashion; bacteria that have a straight or rod shape called bacilli; fusiform
microbes which are tapered at both ends like a spindle; thread like microorganisms called
filaments; and spirochetes, which are thin organisms with a spiral appearance.
Spirochetes are always identified with disease.
After it is formed, what happens to plaque?
If left alone long enough, plaque begins to mineralize and harden into calculus
or tartar because the plaque absorbs calcium, phosphorus and other minerals
from saliva. This can happen to plaque anywhere on the teeth, but it is most noticeable
in plaque that is near salivary gland ducts. That is why people usually observe tarter
behind the front teeth. These minerals form crystals and harden the plaque structure.
New plaque forms on top of existing calculus and this new layer can also become calcified,
resulting in an ever increasing surface area on which plaque can accumulate.
However, once plaque forms, and as long as it is not physically disturbed, its composition
is characterized by a degree of relative stability or harmony among all the various germs
found in the plaque. This stability is called homeostasis. Homeostasis of germs in the
plaque on teeth occurs in both healthy mouths and in mouths with dental diseases, such
as cavities or gum disease.
Homeostasis is due to a balance of the numerous biological interactions of all the germs,
which tend to be in very close physical contact with each other. The germs are in constant
competition with each other for places in the plaque where they can grow best. If
homeostasis is disrupted, the concentration and kinds of organisms in the plaque keeps
changing until homeostasis is re-established. Homeostasis can be disturbed by a number
of different factors, such as hardening of plaque into tarter, reduced quantity of saliva in
the mouth from medications, ordinary brushing and flossing, or the composition of the
diet. Changing the number and kinds of germs in the plaque can alter the state
of health or disease in the mouth.
What causes plaque to have different kinds of germs in it?
Distinctly different kinds of germs dominate the plaque, depending on whether the mouth
is healthy, or disease is present. In a healthy mouth, where the layer of plaque on the
teeth is typically thin, bacteria that need oxygen grow and thrive. They are called aerobic
organisms. These are the same bacteria and other organisms that are normally found
throughout the mouth.
Some bacteria are able to grow with or without oxygen, although they prefer oxygen
because it beneficial to their metabolism and ability to survive. They are called facultative
organisms, and they are more likely to be seen where there is disease. For example,
people who regularly consume a diet with a high sugar content have large numbers of
bacteria in their plaque that are associated with tooth decay or cavities. The primary
microbe associated with cavities is a round shaped facultative germ called Streptococcus
mutans. These bacteria produces tooth dissolving acid when given an abundant supply of
sugar to feed on. Drinking soda pop everyday is a good way to keep Streptococcus
mutans well fed. Sometimes these germs are transmitted from person to person,
especially if they are family members living together.
When a thick layer of dental plaque forms, we commonly find the kinds of microbes that
can grow only when there is little or no oxygen present. They are called anaerobic
microorganisms. Whenever plaque conditions are favorable for anaerobic
organisms to grow and flourish, disease is usually present. For instance, people
with gum disease usually have several different types of anaerobic germs in their
plaque, and particularly, one called Porphyromonas gingivalis. Besides being harmful,
unhealthy bacteria may generate unpleasant mouth odors and aesthetically unattractive
stains on the teeth.
Why do you want to control or prevent dental plaque?
As mentioned at the beginning of this page, the formation of dental plaque on your teeth
is part of normal human physiology. Therefore, it is not possible to prevent saliva and
bacteria in the mouth from depositing on your teeth and contributing to the buildup of
plaque. So you really can’t prevent dental plaque from forming on your teeth. Besides,
you wouldn’t want to, because in a healthy mouth, some dental plaque is beneficial.
However, if you want your teeth and gums to remain healthy or to return to a
state of health, the number and types of bacteria that grow in the plaque must
How do you control dental plaque?
Dentists are taught in dental school that the infectious diseases associated with dental
plaque, primarily gum disease, or tooth decay or cavities, are “caused” by plaque germs
on the teeth. In other words, the germs and the plaque are responsible for creating
cavities or making gums sick. Unfortunately, blaming gum disease and cavities on germs
and plaque leads to some faulty solutions for these illnesses. That’s because the focus is
on an external cause, meaning germs and plaque, rather than on the real reason. That’s
why dentists and hygienists, in a well meaning attempt to help you reduce cavities and
prevent gum disease, always tell you to have your teeth checked twice a year and to
clean the plaque off your teeth by brushing and flossing every day. Does this sound
familiar? Has it helped you or anyone you know stop cavities or gum disease? If you want
to understand how to really keep your teeth and gums healthy, please keep on reading.
The holistic or biological way to control dental plaque:
Do the germs really cause gum disease, or is it the person whose lifestyle allows his or
her mouth to harbor the germs? Do the acid creating bacteria in the plaque cause
cavities, or is it the person whose lifestyle includes all sorts of foods loaded with sugar?
The holistic or biological model asserts that we are entirely responsible for the
germs in the plaque on our teeth, and most importantly, we have complete
control over the nature of our plaque. The types of germs in our plaque is a direct
reflection of what we put in our body, what we eat and drink, and the quality of these
foods, because our entire body, including our immune system, which protects us from
germs, is directly made from these foods. In effect, the health and strength of our immune
system and our entire body, is directly determined by the foods we consume. Whether or
not we get plaque germs that induce gum disease or cavities is entirely an internal
process we can control.
How do you really control dental plaque?
A safe, holistic way you can do this is by following a healthy life style. This means
consuming the right kinds of foods and drinks, including fruits and vegetables and other
foods that are organic, whole grain, unprocessed or raw, and contain no added sugars,
chemicals or synthetic ingredients of any kind. You must also exercise regularly, and
avoid drugs and environmental toxins. If you are able to do this, you will bring about
two critically important changes that will reduce the germs in your dental plaque
and, at the same time, make you healthier. First, you will create an internal, slightly
alkaline, health promoting environment in your entire body, including your mouth, and
second, you will make your immune system very strong - so strong that no disease
promoting organism can survive in the plaque on your teeth for long. You won’t get
cavities or tooth decay because Streptococcus mutans bacteria cannot live very well in
this environment. Neither would any of the kinds of germ associated with gum disease. In
truth, you wouldn’t need dentists or fluoride under these ideal circumstances. Although I
am not suggesting or recommending it, even brushing and flossing wouldn’t be needed.
Of course, then your breath wouldn’t smell very nice.
Why are supplements also needed?
Realistically, most people will rarely meet all of the conditions just described for creating
excellent dental health. So, what is the best practical solution for controlling the germs in
your plaque? The answer is to still consume the right kinds of foods and drinks when you
can, to still exercise and avoid toxins as much as possible, to brush and floss your teeth
so you remove plaque, which means your breath remains sweet, and to compensate for
whatever elements of a healthy lifestyle you are lacking, by adding organic and
all natural whole food supplements to your diet.
Learn more about these remarkable health promoting supplements by clicking
on this link.
How can adding organic and all natural whole food supplements to your diet make your
teeth healthier? The answer is fairly simple. The human body is a marvelously designed
living organism with the ability to grow, regulate, repair, and defend itself when given
natural, high quality, full spectrum nutrients, such as would be obtained by eating only
natural and organically grown foods. In other words, a well nourished body is more
able to resist disease than a poorly fed body.
When you take supplements derived from all natural and organic whole foods, your body
receives the same nutritional nourishment it would get from all natural and organic whole
foods. You develop the same increased ability to ward off disease. In the case of dental
plaque, you raise your level of resistance to the germs that grow in dental plaque. Which
really means you may not get as many cavities as before, or better yet, you may
not get any new cavities!
And like many people, you may discover that these supplements can also help you:
- look younger
- live longer
- feel a whole lot better
Would you like to personally learn more about these supplements and how they
can help your teeth? Take advantage of Dr. Gilbert’s offer of a free, no
obligation nutritional consultation and talk to him about these remarkable
supplements. All you have to do is click here and complete the Nutritional
Whatever health benefits you are seeking, you are invited to try these products and see
for yourself how you can gain a new level of confidence regarding the health of your teeth
and the rest of your body. That means greater peace of mind for you. How much is
The purpose of this page is to help you understand the
causes of dental plaque, and what you need to know
for successful dental plaque control and dental plaque
Healthy Teeth 'n' Gums
Dental Plaque Control
Dr. Gilbert's Holistic Connections Health Newsletter
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