Plaque vs. Tartar – The Enemies of Good Oral Health

When it comes to a clean, healthy mouth, there are two elements that everyone has to watch out for: plaque and tartar.  But what are plaque and tartar, and how are they different?

Plaque is the precursor to tartar, as in, before tartar actually becomes tartar, it starts out as plaque.  Have you ever run your tongue across your teeth and felt something sticky, but it wasn’t food?  That is most likely plaque that you are feeling.  Plaque is colorless, gluey, and typically easy to remove.  It forms on your teeth naturally as a biofilm, which is produced by the microscopic bacteria that reside in your mouth.  As you eat, drink, and saliva forms, plaque is created and sticks to your tooth’s surface until you clean it off with a toothbrush or floss.  Plaque forms on your teeth anywhere from four to twelve hours after you last brush, and that’s why our Atlanta dentists recommend that you brush your teeth twice a day.  Keeping the plaque at bay will help keep you from developing cavities and periodontal disease down the road.

Tartar, or calculus as your hygienist calls it, is formed when the plaque on your teeth is not adequately removed.  Once plaque forms into tartar, which is a hard, brittle material, it can only be dislodged by your dental hygienist and her tools.  Once tartar develops, it can cause an impediment to proper cleaning of your teeth and bacteria can build up, making it very difficult for you to remove new plaque that could form.  If tartar is left unchecked, it can lead to periodontal disease, bone loss, and eventually, the loss of your teeth.  It’s very important to see your Atlanta dentist every six months for your dental cleanings, which involve the removal of tartar in places you may not realize it’s formed.

Both plaque and tartar require good dental care to keep in check, and that means working together with our Atlanta dentists and your homecare to combat the potential ramifications of letting these two bad boys build up.

The best defenses against these enemies of good oral health is brushing twice a day, flossing regularly, and visiting your Atlanta dentist every six months for a professional cleaning and examination to ward off the ill effects of plaque and tartar.  It is very easy to keep putting off this important appointment, but remember that if left unchecked, plaque can turn into tartar and tartar can cause irreversible damage to your teeth and gums.

  We’re in this fight together!  Be sure to contact your Atlanta dental office today!