The Difference Between Plaque and Tartar

When it comes to dental health, there are a lot of times that might seem confusing or overwhelming. Many of those terms you may not even know what they mean. At Prosper & Smile, we understand how difficult it can be to stay up to date with it along with everything else going on in your life. After all, dentists go through numerous years of meticulous schooling so that you don’t have to! One of the most common terms that get mixed up are plaque and tartar. Some people think that the words are used interchangeable, but that’s not true.

Plaque Build Up

Dental plaque is a sticky, colorless film of bacteria and food particles that forms constantly on the surfaces of teeth. It is a natural occurrence and develops when the bacteria in our mouths combine with sugars and starches from the foods we consume. Plaque can accumulate on the enamel of our teeth, along the gumline, and in the crevices between teeth, making it imperative to maintain good oral hygiene practices to prevent its buildup.

When plaque is allowed to build up on teeth and is not properly removed through regular brushing and flossing, it can lead to a range of oral health issues. As plaque accumulates, the bacteria in it release acids that can erode tooth enamel, causing cavities and tooth decay. Furthermore, the presence of plaque can irritate the gums, leading to inflammation and gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Over time, if left untreated, this can progress to more severe periodontal diseases, including periodontitis, which can result in tooth loss and damage to the supporting structures of the teeth.

The Difference Between Plaque and Tartar

What is Tartar?

Dental tartar, also known as dental calculus, is a hard, mineralized deposit that forms on the surfaces of teeth when dental plaque, a sticky film of bacteria and food particles, is allowed to accumulate and remain on the teeth for an extended period. This process occurs as the minerals in saliva combine with the plaque, causing it to harden into a tough, yellow or brownish substance that firmly adheres to the tooth enamel. Unlike plaque, which can be removed through regular brushing and flossing, tartar cannot be eliminated by at-home oral hygiene practices.

When dental tartar builds up on teeth, it can lead to a host of oral health problems. Firstly, tartar provides a rough surface that promotes further plaque accumulation, exacerbating issues like cavities and tooth decay. Moreover, the presence of tartar along the gumline can irritate and inflame the gums, increasing the risk of gingivitis and more severe periodontal diseases if left untreated. Tartar buildup can also cause cosmetic issues, as it can lead to tooth discoloration and make it more challenging to maintain a bright, healthy smile. To prevent these dental problems and maintain good oral health, regular professional dental cleanings are essential for the effective removal of tartar and plaque buildup.

Get Plaque and Tartar Removed in Prosper, TX

At Prosper & Smile Dental Care in Prosper, TX, getting a professional dental cleaning is a vital step in maintaining optimal oral health. During these routine appointments, skilled dental professionals use specialized instruments to thoroughly remove both plaque and tartar from your teeth and along the gumline. This process not only helps prevent cavities and gum disease but also ensures that your smile remains bright and healthy. Regular visits to Prosper & Smile Dental Care for professional dental cleanings are a proactive way to safeguard your dental well-being and achieve that confident, sparkling smile you deserve.