Frequently Asked Questions About Tooth Plaque and Tartar - Holladay Family Dental
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Frequently Asked Questions About Tooth Plaque and Tartar

Frequently Asked Questions About Tooth Plaque and Tartar

Ask for a raise of hands in a crowded room to the question, “Who wants dental plaque and tartar?” and you’re sure to get a less than positive response. We all know that these two things are negative signs of dental health, but what exactly are plaque and tartar, and how are they best treated?

What is teeth plaque?

Dental plaque is the soft, sticky film that covers your teeth. It consists primarily of bacteria that contain acids that lead to tooth breakdown.

What is teeth tarter?

Plaque can eventually harden into a substance known as calculus or tartar.

How does it build up? When does plaque turn into tartar?

Over time, if plaque isn’t cleaned off your teeth daily as well as professionally cleaned on a regular basis, it builds up, hardens and becomes tooth tarter.

What does it do to my teeth over time?

Plaque emerges when the bacteria in it feed on sugary foods. Since much of our daily meals and snacks contain sugar (either naturally occurring or added in), sugar is extremely hard to eliminate. After you’ve eaten foods containing sugar, the bacteria release a type of acid that attacks tooth enamel. If not dealt with properly (cleaned with regular brushing and flossing), the tooth enamel wears down, paving the way for overall tooth decay and cavities to take over.

As teeth plaque hardens, it becomes teeth tarter. Because it’s hard, tartar is more difficult to get out of the mouth. Tartar that extends under the gumline can lead to tender, swollen gums, bleeding gums (also known as gingivitis), periodontal disease and poor oral health.

How can I get rid of it?

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends a number of ways which work together to rid your mouth of plaque and tartar.

  • Brush twice a day
  • Floss once a day
  • Limit sugary foods
  • Avoid in-between meal snacks
  • Schedule regular dental check-ups and cleanings
  • Ask your dentist about dental sealants

Since tooth decay not only leads to tooth and mouth pain but also contributes to the decline of overall physical health, plaque and tartar are a force to be reckoned with. If you notice a buildup, schedule a visit with your dental professional immediately before your dental health takes a nosedive. After all, a healthy smile is something you always want to be able to count on!