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Plaque Vs. Tartar and What They Both Mean for Your Oral Health

Dec 13, 2023
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Plaque Vs. Tartar and What They Both Mean for Your Oral Health

Your mouth is the perfect environment for growing bacteria — warm, moist, and a regular source of food. The bacteria in your mouth are responsible for creating plaque, a glue-like substance that sticks to your teeth, damages tooth enamel, and increases risk of cavities. 

Regular brushing, flossing, and dental cleanings remove plaque, keeping your teeth and gums healthy. When plaque remains on the teeth it hardens, turning into tartar, putting you at risk of more serious oral health problems. You can’t remove tartar with your toothbrush or dental floss, only your dentist or dental hygienist can get rid of tartar.

At Solay Dental in Oldsmar, Florida, our compassionate dentist Dr. Shiva Soleimani takes a holistic approach to oral health, customizing dental plans that fit personal health needs and lifestyle. 

We firmly believe that regular visits to the dentist are the best way to keep your teeth, gums, and body healthy. Here, we want to explain why. Hint: it has something to do with plaque and tartar.

What are plaque and tartar?

Your mouth is home to many microorganisms, including bacteria. They live on your teeth, tongue, and gums. The bacteria have the ability to stick together, creating a thick, sticky biofilm called plaque that covers your teeth. That icky fuzzy coating on your teeth and tongue when you wake up in the morning — that’s plaque. 

Brushing twice a day and flossing at least once a day is the best way to remove plaque from your teeth. If plaque remains on your teeth for too long, it traps the minerals from your saliva and calcifies, turning into tartar

So plaque is the wet sticky glue and tartar is what happens when the “glue” dries. Like hardened glue, tartar is more difficult to remove, requiring trained professionals — your dentist and dental hygienist.

Plaque, tartar, and oral health

Plaque and tartar increase risk of cavities and gum disease. The bacteria in your mouth feed off the carb-containing food particles left in your mouth after you eat. The bacteria produces an acidic byproduct after eating that weakens the enamel on your teeth, making your teeth more susceptible to cavities.

When plaque turns into tartar, your oral health problems worsen. The bacteria in the tartar are glued to your teeth and have regular access to your gums, causing irritation and damage that leads to gum disease, receding gums, and tooth loss. And it also causes cavities. 

Tartar also has an odor, causing bad breath, and discolors your teeth, making yellow, brown, or black stains. 

Habits for healthy teeth

Good habits keep you healthy. Brushing after every meal is the best way to prevent plaque build-up in the mouth.

However, brushing twice a day and flossing once a day can help remove plaque from the teeth before it hardens into tartar. Using an antibacterial mouthwash twice a day also keeps your teeth healthy by reducing the amount of plaque-building bacteria in your mouth.

Regular visits to the dentist for check-ups and cleanings are also a must for oral health. During dental cleanings, our dental hygienist uses special tools to remove plaque and tartar from the teeth and below the gums, preventing the buildup that leads to serious oral health problems. 

We also check for early signs of gum disease and tooth decay. Practicing good oral health habits at home can prevent these oral health issues from turning into major health problems like gum disease and tooth loss. 

Has it been more than six months since your last dental cleaning? Then it’s time to schedule a visit by calling our office or clicking the online booking button. Let us help you maintain oral health and prevent tooth decay and gum disease. 

We offer teeth whitening, Invisalign, and many other cosmetic dental services, and have locations in Oldsmar, Brandon, and New Port Richey, FL.

Book your appointment at Solay Dental by phone or request one online today