Sometimes when people are talking about oral health, they lump plaque and tartar into the same category, however they aren’t quite the same thing—here’s what you should know.
What is plaque?
Plaque is a clear, sticky, film of bacteria that continuously forms on your teeth. This bacteria feeds on sugars in your mouth and contributes to tooth decay and gum disease. It can also help acid build up which destroys your enamel. Plaque can form on your teeth both above and below the gum line.
What is tartar?
If plaque is not removed from your teeth, it combines with minerals in your saliva to harden and form tartar (which is also sometimes referred to as calculus). Tartar gets all over your teeth and into the gum line just like plaque. It traps bacteria in your mouth and further increases your risk for gum disease, tooth decay, and other serious oral health problems. Tartar cannot be removed by flossing or brushing your teeth, so it can cause serious problems.
What should you be doing to prevent problems?
The best way to avoid problems is to remove plaque before it has the chance to cause infections or form any tartar. Plaque forms within 4-12 hours after brushing your teeth which is why it is important to brush after each meal. It is also essential to floss at least once a day. Rinsing your mouth out with an antibacterial mouthwash can also help keep your teeth clean.
Drinking plenty of water throughout the day and avoiding sugary foods and drinks can also help you reduce plaque and bacteria buildup in your mouth.
If tartar has formed on your teeth, it is important to remove it before it causes serious problems, but you can’t do it on your own. Instead you’ll need to schedule an appointment to have your teeth professionally cleaned. Your dentist will have access to tools and cleaning material that can remove tartar buildup.
If you’d like to learn more about keeping your teeth clean, avoiding infections, and preventing plaque and tartar buildup, schedule an appointment at Galleria Dental Aesthetics.