Your mouth is dark and wet, making it the perfect breeding ground for pesky germs. Bills of tiny bacteria live inside your mouth, all of which have access to your tongue, gums and teeth. If these germs are not removed, plaque and calculus will accumulate in your mouth. 

Plague and calculus are destructive for your teeth and gums, and you must keep them under control. To do this, you have to understand what they are and how they are different, and this guide will tell you everything you need to know to keep your mouth clean and healthy.  

Dental Plaque

Plaque is a sticky and colourless film that can accumulate between teeth, on the front of teeth, behind teeth and on chewing surfaces. It can also be found along or below the gum line, which means it can be seen anywhere in your mouth. 

Plaque can sometimes be pale yellow or whitish, too and is made up of millions of bacteria and protein from your saliva. It constantly forms in our mouths and starts forming just minutes after brushing our teeth! It is not always easy to see the plaque on your teeth because of its colour, but if you run your tongue along the front of your teeth in the morning before brushing, you will likely feel some furriness or rough areas, which is plaque. 

After you brush your teeth, saliva will start to coat the surfaces of your teeth, and bacteria will then attach to the proteins in saliva and spread and multiply over time. For this reason, you must brush and floss regularly to prevent plaque from accumulating in your mouth and on your teeth. 

Dangers of Dental Plaque

Plaque is the root cause of many oral health problems. The bacteria in plaque eat what you eat and drink and make acid, which means the more plaque on your teeth, the more acid there will be. This acid will dissolve your tooth enamel, and cavities will form. This is the start of tooth decay and is a problem you must prevent. 

Plaque along your gum line can irritate your gums and cause them to become inflamed and bleed, and this condition is known as gingivitis. This is a severe problem because it is the start of gum disease, but the good news is it is still reversible at this stage if you maintain good oral hygiene habits and schedule regular dental appointments. If left untreated, however, this can progress to periodontitis, the advanced gum disease stage. Additionally, plaque can contribute to bad breath and make your teeth look unsightly, as they will appear dull and yellowish. 

Dental Calculus 

Calculus is plaque that hardens up over time or becomes mineralized and is made up of calcium phosphate and dead germs. Calcium phosphate is deposited from your saliva, and once calculus forms, it cannot be removed by brushing and flossing, and you will have to visit your dentist for a professional cleaning. Only a dentist will be able to remove any calculus buildup. 

Calculus builds up at different rates in different people and will depend on the quality and concentration of calcium in your saliva. Some people will require a professional cleaning every 3 to 4 months, while others only need a professional cleaning once a year. 

Calculus is complicated to see because it forms in the not-so-obvious places in your mouth – mainly under your gums. Its rough surface provides the ideal place for plaque to form. This rough surface of the calculus can irritate your gums, especially when combined with more plaque. 

When your gums become irritated, it can set off a strong response from your immune system, and when this happens, your gums will become inflamed and start peeling away from your teeth. This will not only cause your gums to shrink but also cause the bones and ligaments holding your teeth in place to shrink. This is a condition known as periodontitis, which is advanced gum disease, and if left untreated, your teeth can eventually become loose and may fall out. 

Periodontitis is very serious and is linked to other health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. It does not generally cause the person any pain, and you will not notice any symptoms until it is very advanced and an abscess has formed. If gum disease is detected early, it can be treated and reversed, so you must attend regular dental appointments. Your dentist will conduct a thorough checkup to determine if gum disease is present in your mouth. 

How to Prevent Plaque and Calculus Buildup

You must fight plaque to preserve your teeth and gums throughout your life. Tooth decay and gum disease are preventable if you care for your teeth and gums and have control. 

The following tips will help prevent plaque and calculus buildup:

  1. Maintain a proper oral hygiene routine. You must brush and floss thoroughly twice a day to remove plaque from all surfaces of your teeth. Flossing between teeth and under your gum line where your toothbrush bristles cannot reach is essential in removing plaque. 
  2. Use an electric toothbrush. Research shows electric toothbrushes are better at removing plaque compared to manual toothbrushes. 
  3. Limit sugary foods and beverages. Be mindful of the foods and beverages you consume. Sugary treats and drinks can harm your teeth and cause plaque buildup. 
  4. Visit your dentist regularly. Calculus will form regardless of how well and often you brush your teeth. The only way to get rid of it is to visit your dentist for professional cleanings at least twice a year. 

Plaque and calculus are very different things that can affect your oral health in various ways, but they are both harmful, and you need to take the proper steps to prevent them from forming in your mouth. The good news is they are preventable, and you can avoid suffering from these conditions. 


Do you want to make sure your oral health is on track? Slipacoff Dental can help! We offer several dental services to improve smiles, including dental implants and Invisalign and have been serving patients in Sarnia for many years. 

If you are looking for a family dentist in Sarnia, contact us today to schedule your next appointment!