Dentist Questions Dentist

How quickly does plaque grow?

I am a 22 year old female. I want to know how quickly does plaque grow?

6 Answers


The usual time is around 20 seconds, but with already a clean mouth and with consistent preventative care, it is not an issue. However, with already diagnosed periodontal disease, that is a concern for the toxins in the area will start the eat away at the bones around the teeth, causing more problems. It is a cycle that needs to be maintained for optimal health. Plus, that also means other systemic issues may be at risk, too.
Plaque does not “grow” it builds up. It starts building up as soon as you eat. That is why brushing several time a day is important.
The minute that you finish brushing and flossing the remaining bacterial plaque begins to multiply and grow. Frequent intake of sugar feeds the plaque and speeds its growth. Typically, it takes 6-8 hours for the growth of plaque to get to the point it does damage to your teeth, which is why we encourage brushing multiple times a day.
Plaque grows quickly but it is easily removed with daily brushing.
This may be a surprise to you but plaque forms every day. It doesn't matter if you eat or don't eat, plaque forms. Plaque is a sticky mass of bacteria that forms on your gumline and teeth every day. If plaque is not removed it will crystallize in 24 to 48 hours. Once plaque crystallizes only dental INSTRUMENTS can remove it. Along with plaque formlng every day, you have calcium in your saliva. This calcium will harden. Hardened calcium is CALLED CALCULUS or TARTAR. TARTAR AND PLAQUE ARE TWO DIFFERENT LAYERS. PLAQUE FORMING EVERY DAY CAN PENETRATE TARTAR AND GETS CLOSE TO YOUR TEETH.

Some bacteria have the ability to replicate every 20 minutes (see how many you would get after 24 hours). So, if you brush your teeth one night there is a layer called the salivary pellicle that forms on your teeth almost instantly. After this adheres, the biofilm that we call plaque starts forming and the bacteria started growing and replicating. If you sleep for 8 hours and you started with 1 bacteria and it replicated every 20 minutes you would have 16,777,216 bacteria (and that is if you only left one behind when you brushed your teeth). So, plaque starts forming and builds up after a few hours.
Hope this helps.

My best to you!

William F. Scott IV, DMD