Glossary: Plaque

Dental plaque is a yellowish biofilm that builds up on the teeth. If not removed regularly, it can lead to dental cavities (caries) and inflammation of the gums. The microorganisms that form the biofilm are almost entirely bacteria (mainly streptococcus and anaerobes), with the composition varying by location in the mouth. It is a protein film that forms on the surface enamel by selective binding of glycoproteins from saliva. It is protective to the tooth from the acids produced by oral microorganisms after consuming the available carbohydrates. It is also a means for the microorganisms to attach to the tooth and form what is called Dental plaque.