Medical Definition of Plaque

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Reviewed on 12/11/2018

Plaque:1. An semi-hardened accumulation of substances from fluids that bathe an area. Examples include dental plaque and cholesterol plaque.

  • Minerals form dental plaque around the teeth as a result of bacterial action on food particles. Dental plaque provides an ideal environment for dental caries (cavities) to develop. To reduce the risk, plaque should be removed by daily brushing and flossing, and by regular dental cleanings. When allowed to remain, plaque hardens and is called tartar or calculus.
  • Cholesterol is a key component in plaques on the inner walls of blood vessels and can lead to blood clot formation. heart attacks, and stroke. The risk of these problems can be reduced by maintaining normal blood cholesterol and sometimes requires medications.

2. In dermatology, a plaque is a patch of a small area of skin that appears different than the surrounding skin and is usually raised.

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Reviewed on 12/11/2018