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Dental Plaque vs. Tartar – Differences Between the Two

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Many people use the words ‘plaque’ and ‘tartar’ interchangeably. While it’s true that both are a buildup of bacteria on the teeth, there are distinct differences between the two. Here at Coastal Periodontics, it’s important to us that our patients are well-educated about their dental health. We feel that the more you know about your teeth, the better you’ll be able to care for your oral health and that of your family.

Dental Plaque Information

Dental plaque is a sticky, clear substance which is always forming on your teeth. The sugar and food particles from your meals will combine with your saliva to form plaque, causing the teeth to feel sticky or dirty between brushing.

Plaque can begin to build up just hours after you brush your teeth in the morning, which is why it’s so important to brush at least twice a day, if not more. Interrupting the buildup of plaque as often as possible is vital to keeping the teeth clean and preventing the formation of tartar.

Dental Tartar Information

If dental plaque isn’t removed regularly and thoroughly, it will eventually harden into a substance known as ‘tartar.’ Unlike plaque, which can be removed with thorough brushing, tartar cannot be removed without the help of a professional dental cleaning. Additionally, the longer you allow tartar to buildup and harden, the more difficult it becomes to remove.

Untreated tartar buildup can increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Both of these dental issues can be uncomfortable and expensive to treat.

We all experience the buildup of plaque on our teeth. The best way to prevent this plaque from hardening into tartar and causing additional dental problems is to practice good oral hygiene. This means making sure to brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, floss daily, and visit your general dentist for regular dental cleanings and exams.

To make an appointment with our skilled periodontist, or for additional information about keeping your gum tissue healthy, please contact Coastal Periodontics here in Portsmouth, New Hampshire!

Posted on Aug 23, 2018

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