Plaque vs Tartar: What’s the Difference?

There’s a good chance that you’ve heard the words “plaque” and “tartar” being thrown around your dentist’s office before. But do you know the difference between plaque vs tartar? It could cause you to change up your oral health routine!

In this blog post, we will discuss the main differences between plaque and tartar. We’ll talk about what they are, how you can prevent them, and which is worse for your oral health.

What Is Plaque?

Plaque is a soft and sticky film that forms on your teeth. It’s made up of food particles and bacteria that mix with your saliva. 

See, the bacteria in your mouth feed on the carbohydrates in the food you eat, producing acids that damage your teeth and gums. So, if you don’t brush and floss regularly, plaque can accumulate on your teeth and turn into a more serious problem.

What Is Tartar?

Tartar, also known as calculus (don’t worry – there’s no math involved!), is a hard and crusty substance that forms when plaque hardens onto your teeth. Once that plaque starts to set, it turns into tartar within 24 hours and can’t be removed by brushing or flossing. 

Unlike plaque alone, tartar buildup can cause some serious issues, including gum recession, root sensitivity, and tooth loss. Fortunately, not all hope is lost – a dentist can help you get rid of it. They will need to use a special tool called a scaler to remove tartar during a dental cleaning.

Plaque vs Tartar: Which Is Worse?

As you can see, both plaque and tartar are harmful to your oral health. However, since it can lead to a variety of oral health problems, tartar is worse. Plaque, on the other hand, can be removed by proper brushing and flossing techniques.

Now, this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t worry about plaque. It’s the first step toward tartar buildup, so you should still do your best to keep your mouth as plaque-free as possible. 

How to Prevent Plaque and Tartar Buildup

Since they can lead to so many issues, preventing plaque and tartar buildup is the key to maintaining a healthy smile. Here are some tips to help keep your teeth clean and healthy:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time with fluoride toothpaste.
  • Floss at least once a day to remove plaque from between your teeth.
  • Avoid sugary and acidic foods and drinks that can damage your teeth.
  • Chew sugar-free gum to increase saliva flow, which neutralizes acids in your mouth.
  • Visit your dentist regularly for professional dental cleanings and checkups.

The Bottom Line

Now that you know the difference between plaque vs tartar, you can take steps to prevent them from building up on your teeth. Luckily, you shouldn’t have to change up your oral health routine too much – just brush and floss daily, avoid sugary and acidic foods, and visit your dentist regularly.

By following these simple steps, you can maintain a healthy and beautiful smile for years to come. Keep smiling!

Need a hand keeping your teeth plaque- and tartar-free? If so, we’d be happy to help! Click here to get in touch with Shelburne Village Dental, and book your appointment today.

Our patients will always be our first priority. We are devoted to creating an exceptional experience with every patient that walks into our office.

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