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Everything You Need to Know About Plaque and Tartar

Dr. Gordon Poznikoff

Dr. Gordon Poznikoff

You’ve probably heard the words plaque and tartar in commercials for toothpaste. But have you ever wondered what they are exactly? Here’s everything you should know about them.

What are Plaque and Tartar?

Plaque and tartar are related, but they’re not exactly the same.

  • Plaque is a sticky, colorless substance that’s constantly forming on your teeth and gums. Plaque is easily removed with proper dental hygiene. If it isn’t brushed away regularly, however, it will harden into tartar within two days.
  • Tartar is hardened, or calcified, plaque. Unlike its predecessor, tartar is often brown or yellow and can only be removed by a dental professional.

The bacteria in plaque and tartar can lead to bad breath, tooth decay, cavities and gum diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis. If left untreated, these conditions can eventually lead to bigger issues including receding gums, tooth loss and jawbone deterioration.

About Tartar Removal

While plaque is easily removed by brushing and flossing your teeth, tartar can only be completely eliminated by a hygienist or dentist during a comprehensive dental cleaning. He or she will do so by using a metal tool called a scaler to gently scrape the tartar from your teeth.

If there’s an excessive amount of tartar or it’s caused gum disease, your dentist may suggest non-surgical gum therapy. Also known as curettage and root planing, plaque, tartar and bacteria are removed from beneath the gum line and the roots of the teeth are smoothed to discourage new plaque and tartar formation.

Preventing Plaque and Tartar

It’s impossible to prevent plaque from forming on your teeth, but you can stop it from hardening into tartar. Here’s how:

  • Brush twice a day. Using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste, brush your teeth for two minutes at least twice a day.
  • Floss daily. Once a day, floss between your teeth, taking care to glide the floss against both sides of each tooth and as far under your gums as you can without causing pain.
  • Visit your dentist twice a year. Regular cleanings and oral exams are important for spotting and removing all traces of tartar.

Providing Edmonton Dental Patients with Professional Care

If it’s been more than six months since your last teeth cleaning or you’re worried about plaque and tartar buildup, visit a dentist at Heritage Dental Centre in South Edmonton. Call us today to make an appointment.

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Dr. Gordon Poznikoff
Dr. Gordon Poznikoff
Owner and General Dentist at Heritage Dental Centre in Edmonton.