Plaque and tartar. We hear these terms often, but do you know exactly what they mean or understand the difference between the two? Once you do, you are sure to gain important answers to questions about your dental care, including how to prevent gum disease and cavities, why we need to brush twice a day and why it is so important that we visit the dentist for a routine cleaning.
- What Is Plaque?
- Plaque is a clear, sticky deposit of bacteria that can adhere to your teeth and gums. It is known for sticking so strongly that you can’t simply rinse it off. Instead, plaque must be removed by brushing or flossing. When it comes to plaque, time is of the essence. It only takes a short period of time after eating or drinking for plaque to begin to form; that’s why dentists recommend brushing twice a day. The more you disturb this bacteria by diligent brushing, the less chance plaque has to build up on your teeth. Once plaque builds up, it can produce tooth stains and start damaging your teeth and gums. The bacteria in plaque releases an acid attack on your tooth enamel, which can eventually lead to cavities. Plaque buildup along your gum line is the primary cause of gum disease
- What Is Tartar?
- Put simply, tartar is hardened plaque. In other words, if you have failed to remove plaque through brushing or flossing, it will become hard deposits of calculus (or tartar). Perhaps the most important aspect to know about tartar is that you cannot remove it by yourself. Tartar can only be removed by your dentist during a professional teeth cleaning – hence the reason you need to make that routine dental appointment every six months. When tartar is left along the gum line, the tissue can become red and swollen and bleed easily. Excessive tartar buildup along your gums can quickly result in gum disease.
Now that we are all aware of the unwanted presence and dangers of plaque and tartar in our mouths, it is important to know how we can fight back. Some patients are more susceptible to plaque and tartar buildup than others. However, we can all take some steps to eliminate these smile dangers. Here are some tips on managing plaque and controlling tartar:
- Brushing twice a day for 2 minutes each time
- Floss daily
- See your dentist for a professional cleaning twice a year
- Avoid starchy and sugary foods and drinks
- Eat plaque-fighting foods such as cheese and vegetables
- Choose a tartar-control toothpaste
- Use mouthwash with antibacterial agents
At Gilreath Family Dentistry, we hope that by educating you on the ins and outs of plaque and tartar, you can maintain a healthier, more vibrant smile. To learn if your dental health is threatened by excessive plaque or tartar buildup, call us today for an appointment. We can save you from cavities and gum disease before it is too late.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Paul Gilreath IV,