Understanding the Difference Between Plaque and Tartar

July 16, 2019

dental flossThere is a fair amount of confusion surrounding the difference between plaque and tartar. It’s important to know the difference between these two aspects of oral health because they are treated in very different ways.

Despite that, plaque and tartar do have some similarities. They’re both caused by a buildup of food particles, acid, and bacteria in your mouth, and high levels of either are a sign of poor oral hygiene.

What is Plaque?

Plaque is a sticky, white layer that builds up on your teeth. Every time you eat, it’s unavoidable that you’ll have some leftover food particles caught in your teeth. This feeds bacteria that live in your mouth, and produces a harmful acid as the bacteria consume the particles. This effect is amplified if the food you eat is high in carbs or sugar.

If plaque sits on your teeth, the acid causes damage to your smile in the form of cavities and gum disease. However, if you keep up with good oral hygiene habits, like brushing twice a day and flossing daily, you will minimize damage by removing the plaque that collects on your teeth during the day and while you sleep.

What is Tartar?

dental toolsTartar is what happens when plaque sits on teeth too long and hardens into a substance that is much more difficult to remove. In fact, you won’t be able to remove tartar on your own. You’ll need the help of a dental hygienist.

It’s important to remove tartar because leaving it on your teeth can lead to:

  • Tooth discoloration
  • Gum disease
  • Tooth sensitivity

Visit the Dentist Every 6 Months

Even the greatest brusher and flosser has some tartar buildup, and there’s only one way to get rid of it! In order to keep tartar at bay, be sure to visit the dentist for a professional cleaning twice a year.

Posted In: Dental Hygiene