What is the Difference Between Plaque and Tartar?

If you have ever been to a dentist, you have certainly heard of plaque and tartar. Maybe your dentist has even encouraged you to floss more often to prevent tartar buildup between your teeth, or perhaps they talked about scraping off the accumulated plaque during your last visit. Most Americans have heard the terms plaque and tartar many times, but very few understand the difference between them. If you are among them, then read this week’s blog to learn everything you need to know about plaque and tartar!

difference between plaque and tartar

Do you understand the difference between plaque and tartar?

What is plaque?

Plaque is a colorless, sticky substance that is made up of bacteria and saliva. If not brushed away every night then it will build up against your gum line. Plaque can lead to cavities and tooth decay and when it is not dealt with on a daily basis, it can calcify and turn into tartar.

Plaque can lead to cavities because it contains acids which break down your tooth enamel. If you go too long without brushing your teeth, plaque can start to erode your teeth and lead to damage. On a positive note, it is easy to remove plaque so long as you follow daily oral hygiene and brush and floss thoroughly every night.

What is tartar?

Unlike plaque, tartar has a bit of a color and is usually yellowish or slightly brown. Tartar is basically just accumulated plaque which has been allowed to calcify into a hard, porous substance. When left unchecked, tartar will continue to calcify and get bigger, leading to an unsightly smile. Tartar can be removed by a professional dentist using a scraper tool, but you won’t be able to get rid of it by brushing alone. Tartar generally forms along the gum line but if you are unfortunate and it begins to grow beneath the gums then surgery may be required to remove it. Plaque and tartar are easy to prevent with good oral health habits and routine visits to your dentist, so be sure to schedule your biannual visit today!

Park Dental, Your Upper Marlboro Dentist

Get in touch with Park Dental today to make an appointment! It’s easy! Just call us at 301-599-0194, or use our contact form! We also offer affordable in-house dental plans for families, small businesses, college students, and individuals. Keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter,Google+, and Pinterest for more oral health tips and information!  

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