Plaque: Remove dental plaque yourself

Plaque: Remove dental plaque yourself

Plaque and tartar develop over time in everyone. While you can remove soft plaque yourself with a toothbrush and toothpaste, hard tartar can only be removed by a dentist. Careful oral and dental hygiene can effectively prevent plaque. With the help of colouring tablets, you can visualize the plaque and check how clean you are when brushing your teeth. Find out more about plaque and tartar here.

How is plaque formed?

Plaque forms when teeth are not adequately cleaned regularly. The formation of plaque takes place in several steps: After the last brushing of the teeth, a fine biofilm (pellicle) forms on the tooth surface. This consists of various proteins in the saliva and ensures that essential minerals can be stored in the tooth enamel and that the teeth are protected from aggressive acids.

Over time, bacteria accumulate in the originally bacteria-free pellicle. In addition, food residues (in particular certain sugar building blocks), as well as tissue cells and saliva components, also get caught on the tooth surface. More bacteria can easily attach themselves to the sugar building blocks, particularly accelerating plaque formation. 


Soft plaque

Over time, more and more bacteria collect on the teeth, and a whitish-yellow coating develops. If you discover such discolouration on your teeth, it is high time to brush your teeth thoroughly. Because in the first few hours and days, the plaque is still water-soluble, and you can easily remove it yourself.

Plaque can form on the teeth but also in the spaces between the teeth. Plaque also forms easily on the tooth necks. In addition, the bacteria can settle in the gum pockets. 

Because the bacteria in plaque produce foul-smelling compounds, they are responsible for the bad breath often caused by plaque. They can also convert sugar into acid, which attacks tooth enamel. Over time, this causes the enamel to become more porous, eventually becoming so brittle that bacteria can penetrate the enamel and cause tooth decay

Solid calculus

If plaque is not removed, it hardens and turns into tartar within a few days. Calcium salts from the saliva are mineralized, and the plaque hardens. How quickly tartar develops from plaque varies from person to person. In sensitive people, tartar can form after just two days. 

Tartar itself is not harmful to teeth or gums. The problem, however, is that its rough surface makes it easier for other bacteria to colonize and form plaque again. In addition, the pH value in this area can drop due to various metabolic processes under the tartar. This allows the acids and bacteria under the tartar to damage the tooth. 


Caries and periodontitis as consequences

Wird der Zahnbelag nicht regelmäßig entfernt, können Karies, Parodontitis und Zahnfleischentzündungen die Folge sein. Nicht immer ist jedoch eine schlechte Mund- und Zahnhygiene schuld. Daneben können auch folgende Faktoren die Entstehung von Plaque begünstigen:

  • eine falsche Ernährung
  • eng stehende Zähne
  • die Keimzusammensetzung im Mundraum
  • eine zu geringe Speichelmenge im Mundraum
  • abstehende Ränder von Kronen oder Füllungen

Selbst bei einer sehr sorgfältigen Mundhygiene ist es nicht immer möglich, die Zähne völlig frei von Plaque und Zahnstein zu halten. Deswegen sollte bei Erwachsenen mindestens ein, bei Kindern mindestens zwei Zahnarztbesuche pro Jahr Pflicht sein.

Plaque: Was tun?

Im Gegensatz zum harten Zahnstein können Sie die weiche Plaque leicht selbst entfernen. Putzen Sie sich gründlich die Zähne und vergessen Sie auch nicht, die Zahnzwischenräume mit Zahnseide oder einer Interdentalbürste zu reinigen. So können Sie Zahnbelag in der Regel leicht wegbekommen.

Idealerweise putzen Sie Ihre Zähne morgens und abends jeweils mindestens drei Minuten lang. Wenden Sie am besten die sogenannte Fegetechnik an: Setzen Sie dabei die Zahnbürste am Übergang des Zahnes zum Zahnfleisch an. Fegen Sie anschließend den Zahnbelag mit kleinen Wischbewegungen von rot nach weiß weg. Drücken Sie dabei allerdings nicht zu fest auf, ansonsten können Zahnschmelz und Zahnfleisch geschädigt werden.

Various home remedies – for example, baking soda – are often discussed to remove plaque and tartar. Before you resort to such home remedies, consult your dentist because some home remedies can damage tooth enamel instead of protecting it. That’s why it’s best to use toothpaste and brush to care for your teeth.

Make plaque visible with dye tablets.

So-called colouring tablets are used to make the plaque on the teeth visible. These ensure that the plaque on the teeth and oral mucosa changes colour. This makes it easy to see where the teeth need to be cleaned with sufficient care.

Some colouring tablets can also distinguish between old and new plaque, making particularly neglected areas easier to identify. Dentists often use them to check children’s brushing behaviour. The tablets can also be used privately – but not more often than once in two weeks. The tablets are unsuitable for small children or people with an iodine allergy.


Only have tartar removed by a dentist.

You can remove plaque yourself, but stubborn tartar requires a visit to the dentist. Because toothbrushes, dental floss, etc., can no longer do anything against tartar. Tartar can be removed by the dentist or as part of a professional teeth cleaning.

In general, it is recommended to have such cleaning carried out once or twice a year. If tartar is not removed regularly, the risk of dental diseases, such as tooth decay, increases.

However, under no circumstances should you try to remove tartar yourself. Otherwise, you can cause severe damage to your tooth enamel.

Prevent plaque and tartar.

You can counteract the formation of plaque and tartar with the following tips and tricks:

  • Brush your teeth regularly and floss between your teeth. 
  • Use mouthwash.
  • Clean your tongue regularly with a tongue scraper.
  • Eat a healthy diet and avoid foods that are exceptionally high in sugar.

If you wear braces or dentures, clean them as carefully as you clean your teeth because dental plaque can also form on dentures and braces and endanger adjacent teeth.

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