What's the Difference between Plaque and Tartar? The Chapel Hill General Dentist Explains

by Dr. Diane Hourigan | Date Published: 2018-05-08

You may know that plaque and tartar can damage your teeth, but you may not understand how they do it or what the difference is between the two.

Your Chapel Hill general dentist knows how important it is for you to be informed about matters that affect your oral health. We don’t just need to explain why treatment is necessary, but we also need to provide you with the tools to prevent the need for treatment in the first place!

How Does Plaque Form?

Plaque is a bacteria-laden biofilm that collects on our teeth as we consume foods and drinks throughout the day. As the plaque sits on your teeth, the bacteria feed on the food particles left in your mouth and produce acid as a byproduct. It is the acid that eats away at your teeth and causes cavities.

You can’t stop plaque from developing, but you can interrupt the acid-producing process by brushing or chewing sugarless gum after meals. Drinking lots of water keeps you hydrated, but it also helps carry away food debris.

Where Does Tartar Come In?

Plaque that is not removed from hard-to-reach places like between teeth and under the gums turns into a calcified material called tartar or calculus. Tartar needs to removed routinely by a dentist or skilled dental hygienist using special tools.

If you don’t have tartar removed, bacteria continue to collect, damage your teeth and ultimately lead to gum disease. Your Chapel Hill general dentist recommends dental cleanings every six months to stay a step ahead of tartar so we can keep your smile healthy.

Please Call Us

If it’s time for your next dental cleaning or you just have oral health questions, please call us to arrange an appointment.