Plaque Vs Tarter


Many people may not understand the differences between plaque and tartar. Many people may not even know there is a difference. A lot of people think when they are told they have tartar build-up on their teeth that it’s just a build-up of plaque. This is not the case. Plaque and tartar are different, have very different effects on teeth, and require different treatment methods to be removed.


When a person eats, the sugars and starches in the food mix with the saliva in their mouth. This combination is what creates a sticky colorless film called plaque. In order for plaque to form the mouth needs bacteria, carbohydrates, food particles, and saliva. Foods like candy or other sugary treats are more likely to form plaque. Because plaque is very sticky it can cling to a person’s teeth, gums, under the gums, and even the roots of their teeth.

The bacteria in plaque contains acid and is very harmful to tooth enamel. Plaque that is not removed can also make its way below the gum line and can wreak havoc on the bones that support the teeth. When this occurs the teeth can become mobile and eventually lost. When plaque forms it is soft and can be removed with regular brushing and flossing. However, when plaque is left on teeth it begins to harden. In fact, after the formation of plaque, it only takes about 48 hours for it to harden into something called tartar.


As mentioned above when plaque is left on teeth it begins to harden and become something called tartar. Tartar also referred to as calculus, is mostly made up of mineralized dead bacteria. Like plaque tartar can develop above and below the gum line. However, unlike plaque, tartar cannot be removed with brushing and flossing.

When a person develops tartar, a dental professional must use special tools to remove it from the teeth. If tartar is left on the teeth it can make it very hard for a person to brush and floss properly. When a person talks or smiles tartar can be visible. If they eat or drink foods that can stain, tartar can become darkened and more visible.

Not only does tartar cause cosmetic problems it can also cause problems with a person’s teeth and gums. Because brushing and flossing become more difficult when tartar builds up, more plaque and tartar begin to form. This eventually leads to cavities, gum disease, and bone loss. This is why having tartar removed by a dental professional is so important to the health of the teeth and gums.


At Paris Family Dental we know how important good oral hygiene is and we work hard to educate our patients on this importance as well. At our Paris Texas office, we educate our patients on the importance of regular 3 to 6-month cleanings and checkups. We also stress the importance of daily brushing and flossing. Routine cleanings and checkups are necessary to maintain healthy teeth and gums.

At routine cleanings, a dental professional uses special instruments to clean and polish each tooth. He or she also takes x-rays and our dentist does a thorough exam, checking for any dental issues. While at the cleaning and checkup appointment the patient is also given important information on how to properly care for their teeth at home. This will help them maintain healthy teeth and gums for a lifetime. Contact Paris Family Dental today to schedule an appointment.