Plaque and Tartar are Not the Same
Tuesday, February 5, 2019
Do you know there’s a distinct difference between plaque and tartar? If not, don’t worry. You’re not alone. Many people are unaware of the similarities and differences between the two. But they do know that plaque and tartar are both problematic when it comes to maintaining the health of their teeth and gums.
Routine dental visits typically consist of a dental cleaning, dental x-rays, and an oral health evaluation by a dentist. During the process of cleaning, every effort is made to remove plaque and tartar from your teeth. Removal of these substances keeps your teeth clean and healthy.
If plaque and tartar are not eliminated, your oral health suffers. Not only can plaque and tartar lead to tooth decay and the loss of tooth enamel, but other common side-effects include tooth sensitivity, discolored teeth, and gum disease.
What is Plaque?
When you eat food or drink beverages, debris remains on your teeth and around your gums. The substance is called plaque. It’s sticky and clear in color. Removing plaque from your teeth is easily accomplished with proper brushing and flossing at least twice a day.
What is Tartar?
When your teeth are not maintained with brushing, flossing, and/or other cleaning methods, plaque eventually turns to tartar. Tartar is hard and cannot be removed with a toothbrush or dental floss. Only a dentist or hygienist can remove tartar using special dental tools. This is one reason why it’s incredibly important to schedule a routine dental appointment two times a year.
Don’t Forget to Brush and Floss!
The accumulation of plaque and tartar is practically impossible to avoid, even if you brush and floss regularly. Diligent brushing, flossing, and maintaining your teeth and gums in between dental appointments is vital. Excellent oral hygiene reduces the amount of tartar that must be removed at your bi-annual dental cleaning appointment.
Are Your Teeth Yellow or Brown?
If it’s been quite a while since your last dental visit, your teeth might show tartar accumulation. Tartar appears as a yellow or brownish film over your teeth and makes your smile appear dull or drab. If tartar remains on your teeth for an extended period, the problem may develop into a more severe oral health issue. In severe cases, extreme tartar buildup can cause gum disease and tooth loss.
Routine brushing and flossing eliminate plaque, which in turn makes the development of tartar less likely. But it’s important to remember that even people who are diligent at keeping their teeth clean should schedule regular dental visits twice a year. Tartar is easiest to remove as soon as it’s discovered.
If it’s challenging for you to keep your teeth clean because they are not in perfect alignment or because it’s difficult for you to use a toothbrush or dental floss, it’s more important than ever to visit the dentist twice a year. Keep in mind that eating and drinking certain types of food and beverages can help rid your mouth of plaque. The next time you see your dentist, remember to ask for recommendations on items that help keep your teeth clean – such as crunchy fruits and vegetables, and sugarless chewing gum.