How Long Does It Take For Plaque To Form?

April 8, 2023

The answer to this question depends on what you mean by form and plaque. If you’re referring to a soft, sticky film that gets wiped away after brushing and flossing, then it takes about 24 hours before bacteria are mature enough to do harm.

The bacterial colonies that cling to the surface of your teeth metabolize simple sugars, producing acids that attack your enamel and break down the roots of your teeth. If left untreated, plaque can lead to gum disease and tooth decay.

There are two types of plaque: supragingival biofilm and intraplaque. The latter is what’s most commonly found on the chewing surfaces of molars and in between your teeth. Supragingival biofilm usually forms 4 to 12 hours after brushing and is aerobic, meaning it needs oxygen to survive.

How does plaque form?

Plaque forms on the surface of your teeth when bacteria eat food and drink that is sugar-packed. The bacteria then clump together to form a biofilm that’s colorless, odorless and sticky.

It’s a natural defense system, which protects your teeth and gums from bacteria that would otherwise cause disease. This is why it’s so important to maintain good oral hygiene habits, limit sugary foods and drinks and see your dentist regularly to have plaque thoroughly removed.

What are the bacteria in plaque?

There are many different kinds of bacteria that live in your mouth. These include the bacterium Streptococcus mutans and other types of bacteria that produce a variety of complex glucans, which are polymers made from a sugar moiety.


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