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Plaque and Tartar, Things you must know

Plaque and Tartar, Things you must know

You know it’s important to brush, floss, and rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash to prevent tartar buildup.

But do you know why? What is tartar? How does it get on your teeth? And what can happen if it does? keep reading to learn more.

What is Plaque?

Plaque is a sticky, colorless film of bacteria that constantly forms on our teeth and along the gum line. Plaque contains bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease. As plaque forms and is not removed by proper brushing and flossing, it can harden into tartar.

What is Tartar?

Tartar is tough—it’s a hard, crusty deposit that can trap stains and leads to tooth discoloration. Tartar is formed when residual plaque on the surface of the tooth reacts with minerals in your saliva. it is a yellow or brown colored deposit that forms when plaque mineralizes on your teeth. Susceptibility to tartar buildup varies greatly depending on the individual person. Generally, as you age, you become more prone to having tartar form on your teeth.

Signs & Symptoms of Plaque and Tartar

Everyone develops plaque because bacteria are constantly growing in our mouths, which is not necessarily easy to see. Plaque that is not removed from around the gum line can cause inflammation and irritation to the gums around your teeth, leading to gingivitis (red, swollen, bleeding gums). If gingivitis is not treated, it can progress to periodontal disease and, possibly, tooth loss.

Unlike plaque, tartar is a mineral buildup that’s fairly easy to see, if above the gum line. The most common sign of tartar is a yellow or brown deposit between the lower front teeth or at the gum line. The only way to remove tartar completely is to see a dentist for a professional cleaning.

Cause of Plaque and Tartar

A lot of what we eat and drink remains in our mouths long after we’ve finished. Bacteria in our mouths thrive on many of these foods — namely sugars and carbohydrates — and produce acids that can attack the tooth surface. Additionally, if proper flossing and tooth brushing are not conducted efficiently each day this leads to more plaque and tartar development. Tartar gives plaque more surface area on which to grow and a much stickier surface to adhere to.

Related: Food That Strengthen Teeth

If not removed through daily brushing and flossing, plaque can build up, and the associated bacteria can infect not only your gums and teeth but also the gum tissue and bone that support the teeth.

Tips to Help Control Plaque and Tartar

Your best bet is not to let tartar form on your teeth. Here’s how:

1- Brush regularly

Twice a day for 2 minutes. A 30-second scrub twice a day won’t remove plaque or prevent tartar. Use a brush with soft bristles that is small enough to fit into your mouth. Be sure to include the hard-to-reach surfaces behind your teeth and on your rear molars.

Studies have found that electronic or powered toothbrushes may get rid of plaque better than manual models. No matter which type you use, be sure it has the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval. These have undergone rigorous quality control and safety tests.

2- Choose tartar-control toothpaste with fluoride. Fluoride will help repair enamel damage. Some products have a substance called triclosan that fights the bacteria in plaque.

3-Floss, floss, floss.

No matter how good you are with a toothbrush, dental floss is the only way to remove plaque between your teeth and keep tartar out of these hard-to-reach areas.

4-Rinse daily.

Use an antiseptic mouthwash daily to help kill bacteria that cause plaque.

5-Watch your diet. 

The bacteria in your mouth thrive on sugary and starchy foods. When they’re exposed to those foods, they release harmful acids. Try to eat a healthy diet and limit the number of sugary foods you eat. That goes for snacks, too. Every time you eat, you also feed the bacteria in your mouth. You don’t have to give up sweets or between-meals munches. Just be mindful of how often you indulge. Brush and drink plenty of water during and after meals.

6- Don’t smoke. 

Studies show that people who smoke cigarettes or use other tobacco products are more likely to have tartar.


Only a dentist can remove tartar professionally, but you can proactively prevent it with a good brushing.

We love our patients and love to help them form healthy dental life that will last them a lifetime. For more information call us today to answer all of your questions so get an appointment


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