Dental Tips Blog


Plaque and Tartar – Is There a Difference?

Plaque and tartar are often regarded as one and the same. If it’s all buildup on your teeth – does it really matter what you call it?

Actually, there is a difference. The two materials affect you mouth in slightly different ways, but they are closely related. By understanding what plaque and tartar are, you’ll be ready to remove and prevent them, keeping your teeth healthy.

What Dental Plaque Really Is

Plaque is a mixture that’s mostly made up of bacteria. It also contains food debris mixed with fluids from your mouth. The bacteria produce a slimy layer to protect themselves as they grow in colonies.

Dental plaque is invisible at first, but it picks up stain as it accumulates.

Plaque is very acidic! Left on the tooth too long, it causes demineralization of the enamel. Chalky white spots form on the tooth and mark the start of cavities.

Speaking of cavities, plaque is made up of the bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease. So it’s not great to leave plaque undisturbed.

Fortunately it is easy to remove, but also easy to overlook.

Where Tartar Comes From

Tartar, on the other hand, is not so easy to remove.

Also known as calculus, tartar forms from plaque that has hardened with minerals found in saliva. Tartar isn’t as serious as plaque because it isn’t made up of live bacteria, but the roughness of it can still harbor lots of plaque.

How do you get rid of tartar and plaque?

A professional dental cleaning will get you started! Visit a dental office near you to learn more about keeping your smile healthy and debris-free.

Posted on behalf of:
Dentistry of Highland Village
3651 Weslayan St. #208
Houston, TX 77027
(713) 360-7700

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