The Most Important Difference Between Plaque and Tartar

In its simplest definition, good dental hygiene is the process of controlling the accumulation of plaque and tartar on your teeth and gums. When oral bacteria get together, they produce a film known as dental plaque that allows them to cling to your teeth, safe from the saliva that would otherwise rinse them away. Brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing at least once can help you control plaque formation, but when it calcifies into tartar, you’ll need professional cleaning at your dentist’s office to remove it.

Your Day-to-Day Dental Health

Your mouth is home to over 600 identifiable kinds of oral bacteria. Most of them are not a threat to your oral health, but almost all of them contribute to plaque formation on a daily basis. Even if they aren’t harmful, the plaque they create can protect the bacteria that can harm your teeth and gums, making dental plaque a significant threat to your smile. Fortunately, plaque formation could be kept at bay if you consistently clean your teeth every day. Yet, if you skip a day or even miss a spot, then the plaque that stays can calcify into tartar.

When Plaque Overstays Its Welcome

Tartar is what plaque becomes when it’s allowed to remain on your teeth for too long, and because it’s calcified, your toothbrush and floss can’t remove it. You might maintain a perfectly effective hygiene routine after it forms, but the threat will remain until you visit your dentist to have it carefully cleaned away. While plaque is a daily threat, tartar is a more substantial one because it gives oral bacteria a greater chance at accumulating and becoming stronger. Because of this, routine dental exams and cleanings are just as important to protecting your smile as keeping up with good hygiene at home.

Learn More About Controlling Harmful Plaque and Tartar

Plaque and tartar are the shields behind which harmful oral bacteria hide, and controlling them is the focal point of successful preventive dentistry. To learn more, schedule a consultation with Dr. Burds by calling Gateway Dental Group in downtown Des Moines, IA, at (515) 244-9565.