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Plaque and Tartar? What’s the Difference?

You probably already know that it’s important to brush your teeth and floss regularly, but do you know why those steps are important? For many people, these are just normal steps in their morning and nighttime regimens, which is great, but once you understand the differences between plaque and tartar, the need to keep your oral health on a regular schedule will become even more clear.

What is Plaque?

Plaque is the sticky, white or colorless substance that forms on your teeth (usually around the gumlines). If you floss, you might notice plaque on your floss threads after it runs through your teeth. It’s filled with bacteria that can eventually secrete acids onto the enamel of your teeth. In the end, it can erode the protective outer barrier of your teeth and cause harm to the tissues that make up your gums.

However, plaque doesn’t stick around very long (pun intended!) if you brush and floss. Everyday toothbrushes and oral health utensils are made to remove this substance from your teeth and gumlines.

What is Tartar?

Tartar is calcified plaque. In other words, it’s bacteria that’s been allowed to sit in one place long enough that it hardens and can no longer be removed with a normal toothbrush or floss. Once plaque turns into tartar, you must see a dentist to have the substance removed, as only professional dental tools have the ability to scrape off this hard element.

How Do Plaque and Tartar Cause Damage?

Plaque by itself is normal. As long as you brush and floss, you’ll remove this bacterial agent from your mouth. However, if you get lax on your daily routine, plaque can quickly begin to turn into tartar. As the dental clinic Montreal patients come to with oral health issues, we can tell you that it’s all too common for people to let tartar take over.

If tartar becomes a significant issue, it can:

  • Discolor teeth
  • Attract more plaque and bacteria
  • Cause pain in the gums
  • Elicit gum disease
  • Cause periodontal disease
  • Become expensive if you need bone grafting, crowns, or dental implants

The best way to avoid these problems is to brush regularly and see your dentist at least twice a year.

If you’re looking for the dental clinic Montreal residents trust with their regular cleanings and oral health issues, we’re glad you’ve found us! Our team at Centre Dentaire is ready to welcome you to our office when you’re ready!