Dental plaque is a biofilm or mass of bacteria that grows on surfaces within the mouth. It appears as a white/pale yellow "slime layer", that is commonly found between the teeth and along the cervical margins. Dental plaque is also known as microbial plaque, oral biofilm, dental biofilm, dental plaque biofilm or bacterial plaque biofilm. While plaque is commonly associated with oral diseases such as caries and periodontal diseases (gum diseases), its formation is a normal process that cannot be prevented. Its progression and build up is what leads to oral problems, hence it is important to disrupt the mass of bacteria and remove it daily. Plaque control and removal is achieved with correct tooth brushing and use of interdental aids such as dental floss and interdental brush.
Removal of dental biofilm is important as it may become acidic causing demineralisation of the teeth (also known as caries) or harden into calculus (dental) (also known as tartar). Calculus cannot be removed through toothbrushing or with interdental aids and can only be removed through professional cleaning. Therefore, removal of the dental biofilm will prevent the development of caries and/or gum diseases.
Dental plaque can give rise to dental caries (tooth decay)—the localised destruction of the tissues of the tooth by acid produced from the bacterial degradation of fermentable sugar and periodontal problems such as gingivitis and periodontitis.