Illustration of a special dental tool removing plaque and tartar from a row of teeth

What’s the Difference Between Plaque & Tartar?

March 23, 2023 7:53 pm

An accumulation of plaque and tartar puts your smile at risk for oral health issues, including bad breath, tooth discoloration, decay and cavities, gum disease, and tooth loss. While related, the terms “plaque” and “tartar” can’t be used interchangeably. They are actually different.

Plaque vs. Tartar

Dental plaque is a sticky film on teeth and gums that develops during the day from eating and drinking. Plaque contains millions of bacteria, which produce acidic byproducts that wear down your enamel and irritate your gums.

When plaque isn’t removed from your teeth, it will harden into tartar. Tartar builds up if you don’t regularly brush, floss, and rinse. Once plaque turns into tartar, it needs to be removed by a dental professional with special tools. Tartar can cause your gums to recede and pull away from your teeth. This recession forms pockets that harbor bacteria, which can result in infection and tooth loss.

How to Prevent Plaque & Tartar Buildup

Plaque buildup can be minimized by consuming a balanced diet, limiting grazing during the day, drinking plenty of water, and avoiding tobacco products. And some of the best ways to prevent plaque from turning into tartar are to rinse your mouth after you eat, chew sugar-free gum, and brush your teeth at least twice a day. When brushing your teeth, make sure you are using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste. Brush in gentle, circular motions for at least two minutes every brushing session.

Schedule Your Routine Cleaning & Exam!

In addition to brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing daily at home, visiting SmileShack Dental & Braces for regular cleanings will help you prevent the buildup of plaque and tartar. The American Dental Association advises patients to get a dental checkup and cleaning at least twice a year. Our team loves helping patients achieve their smile goals with our dental services. Please contact us today to schedule your appointment at SmileShack Dental & Braces in Raytown, MO!


Image from Authority Dental under CC 2.0

Categorised in: ,