When it comes to the culprits behind most oral problems, plaque and tartar are well-known offenders. But if you think those words are interchangeable, you’re mistaken — and knowing the difference between them can help to greatly improve your oral hygiene. Today, your Dental Expressions dentist in Oklahoma City is in with more on the difference between plaque and tartar — listen and learn, and enjoy healthier teeth!
All About Plaque
To put it simply, plaque is the precursor to tartar. It’s the sticky film that’s made up of saliva and bacteria — colorless and soft, it collects daily around the gum line. In fact, it only takes about eight hours for plaque to form.
Because plaque is a highly acidic substance, left on the teeth it can cause serious dental problems. When the acid in plaque breaks through the tooth enamel, cavities can easily form. And since it irritates the gums, plaque left in the mouth for too long can cause bleeding gums, gingivitis and, once it forms into tartar, the more serious periodontitis (more on that below).
Given that it forms so quickly, good oral hygiene can seem like a constant battle with plaque. Fortunately, thorough, consistent brushing and flossing are completely effective in removing the sticky substance.
What Comes After Plaque: Tartar
While plaque is colorless, you can’t miss tartar — it’s the yellow or brown, hard substance you can see along the gumline. Hardened by the mineral deposits in saliva, tartar is merely plaque that hasn’t been removed by consistent brushing and flossing.
Because it’s hard and porous, it’s easy for bacteria to hide out in tartar — and that puts your teeth and gums at a major risk for decay and infection. In fact, plaque that has been left to form into tartar is the number one cause of gum disease and periodontitis, which are frequently associated with tooth loss.
By the time plaque has formed into tartar, you’ll need a professional to help you remove it. The dentists at Dental Expressions use special scaling instruments to clean your teeth from tartar, but if the substance has reached beneath the gum line, surgery may be necessary for removal.
Deal With Plaque and Prevent Tartar Through Good Oral Hygiene
The great news is this: you can remove plaque and prevent tartar from ever forming by maintaining your excellent oral hygiene habits. That means brushing thoroughly twice a day, flossing once a day and visiting your dentist regularly. If it’s been more than six months since your last visit to your Oklahoma City and Moore dentist, don’t hesitate to call us to schedule your appointment today.