The general plaque definition is a film that forms on your teeth. All people develop plaque, but when you brush your teeth regularly, it is not able to accumulate and result in tartar buildup on teeth. If you have plaque that has built up, seeing a Los Angeles dentist is important because they can remove it and help you to determine best methods to prevent further plaque on teeth.

What is Plaque?

You now know the general plaque definition, but what everyone does not know is that it is constantly building up on your teeth. Within four to 12 hours of you last brushing your teeth, plaque begins to form. So, how does plaque form on teeth?

There is a wealth of bacteria in your mouth and it will start collect on your tooth’s surface. This accumulation often starts at the gumline and results in a bacterial film. When this bacteria starts to combine with sugar, acid production occurs. When you eat a lot of carbohydrate-rich foods, or those high in sugar, you are giving the bacteria something to feed on, allowing it to thrive and produce more plaque.

What is Tartar Buildup on Teeth?

Tartar is also called calculus. When you allow plaque to remain on your teeth, it starts to harden, and the hardened state is tartar. It starts to build up above and under the gumline. As tartar continues to build, it puts you at risk for gum disease and receding gums.

Difference Between Plaque and Tartar

Knowing the difference between plaque and tartar will help you understand why the right oral hygiene habits are critical for your overall health. This information will also help you to determine when it is time to talk to a dentist to get a professional cleaning.


• Formation begins within hours after eating or brushing
• It has a sticky texture
• You can remove most plaque with flossing and brushing
• If you do not remove it, it becomes tartar
• It can be difficult to see, and is transparent to pale yellow in color


• After several days, plaque can harden into tartar
• It has a hard mineral texture
• Your dentist has to remove tartar
• It contributes to gum disease and tooth decay
• It ranges in color from white to black

Causes of Plaque on Teeth

There is a diverse array of organisms and bacteria in your mouth due to breathing and what you consume. However, the ecosystem in your mouth typically stays within balance. When certain bacteria start to multiply faster, this can disrupt the balance and cause problems.

When you consume carbohydrates and sugar, the sugars are a source of food for the bacteria, resulting in acid production. This can result in various oral health issues, such as gingivitis and cavities. It is possible for plaque-related tooth decay to start below the gumline, which can result in a deterioration of tooth support.

Dental Plaque Symptoms

Your teeth may feel almost fluffy or softly rough when you have plaque on them. What does plaque look like? You may notice yellow plaque on teeth, or it can be transparent so that you cannot see it when you look in the mirror.

When tartar starts to form, it may resemble yellow plaque on teeth at first. However, you will notice that it is harder and has a rougher feel. You will usually notice it just above your gumline, but it can also develop below it where you cannot see it. Over time, the yellowish hue of tartar can become brown, especially if you smoke or eat and drink things that are dark in color.

Consequences of Dental Plaque

Cavities and gum disease are the two primary concerns when it comes to plaque. When you have a cavity, you may notice the following:

• Toothache that can come on suddenly without a clear cause
• When you heat cold or hot foods, or something sweet, m