Although the two dental afflictions are wrongly used interchangeably by some who do not realize the difference – and relation- between the two, plaque and tartar are two distinct dental issues. Plaque is a sticky film filled with countless bacteria endlessly trying to collect together on the teeth and the gum line, where a tooth meets the gums. While plaque is a soft film, tartar, which is also called calculus, is a hard, crusty-texture deposit that can make it extremely difficult to remove tooth stains, essentially trapping the stains on the surface of the tooth, causing discoloration that requires professional dental attention in order to be removed completely. So, the formation of tartar also complicates the removal of new plaque and bacteria. With plaque, although colorless and soft, eventually this film of bacteria can cause gum disease.
Do you live in the Kansas City, MO area and feel it’s time for a dental cleaning or checkup? Contact the general dentistry office of Dr. James R. Anderson at 816-454-3336 to schedule a visit and make sure your dental hygiene practices are up to standard.
What causes this continuous buildup or bacteria? It’s not only foods and beverages that lead to the formation of plaque, it’s your very own saliva, which, as you know is jam-packed with bacteria. Plaque will begin to accumulate no matter what you do, so frequent brushing is the key to break up the formation of the film and stave off long-term issues. Hard-to-remove stains are only part of the problem associated with plaque- more importantly, plaque is the main factor in the development of gum disease, making that twice or more daily brushing and flossing habit an absolute must instead of an option, as some people think it is.
The formation of plaque begins approximately four to 12 hours after you brush your teeth, depending on a variety of factors, like the food and beverages you consume and other habits you may have. Every individual has varying levels of susceptibility to the buildup of plaque and tartar, but deposits of both are likely build up faster as we age, regardless of how well we take care of our teeth.
Everyone has countless bacteria in their mouth at all times, so no one is immune to the buildup of plaque, however, there are certain precautions people can take to help curb the formation of this bacteria film and greatly reduce their chances of developing tartar and gum disease, such as gingivitis. So, what’s the best way to keep your mouth as free of plaque as possible and prevent tartar buildup?
Use a toothbrush that is marked as having soft bristles to brush your teeth at least twice a day. If you like to indulge in sugary drinks and snacks (try not to!), brush even more often if you can. The type of toothpaste you use is important too. Always buy fluoride toothpaste, which can aid in plaque removal from the surface of your teeth and prevent them from decay and discoloration.
Never underestimate the power of flossing. This practice allows you to clean hard to reach places that the toothbrush simply can’t get into, and since plaque and tartar loves those hard to reach places, it’s especially important to make sure you floss every day at least once.