Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Dental Plaque Underlying Cause

Bacteria are normally present in the mouth. They convert sugars and starches into acids. Plaque forms when the bacteria and acids mix with food and saliva. The acid in the plaque can damage the tooth enamel, which results in the formation of a cavity. As a cavity grows larger, the acid can destroy the tooth.

Plaque can crystallize to form a very hard coating, called tartar. Plaque and tartar can also cause gingivitis, dental abscesses and periodontal disease.

Continue to Dental Plaque Anatomy

Last Updated: Aug 20, 2008 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Dental Plaque References
  1. Brook I. Microbiology and management of endodontic infections in children. J Clin Pediatr Dent. 2003 Fall;28(1):13-7. [14604136]
  2. Douglass AB, Douglass JM. Common dental emergencies. Am Fam Physician. 2003 Feb 1;67(3):511-6. [12588073]
  3. Preshaw PM. Antibiotics in the treatment of periodontitis. Dent Update. 2004 Oct;31(8):448-50, 453-4, 456. [15554049]
  4. Roberts A. Bacteria in the mouth. Dent Update. 2005 Apr;32(3):134-6, 139-40, 142. [15881508]
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