A question we get all the time here at our office is “what’s the difference between plaque and tartar?” Many think they are the same thing, but there is an important difference between the two! Understanding the difference helps explain why a comprehensive daily oral hygiene routine is so important, in addition to semi-annual visits to your dentist for a routine checkup.

What is Plaque?

Plaque is a soft, sticky film that builds up on your teeth and around your gums throughout the day. The biggest problem with plaque is that it contains millions of bacteria that are fueled by the foods you eat each day – especially carbohydrates and sugar. When those bacteria take in nutrients, they produce acids that erode your tooth enamel and can cause cavities.

A good daily oral hygiene routine helps prevent tooth decay by eliminating plaque buildup before it can do damage. You should brush at least twice a day and floss once per day. Increasing water intake and chewing sugar-free gum after meals can also help fight plaque buildup!

What is Tartar?

While plaque is the sticky film that builds up on teeth, tartar is what accumulates when that plaque is not removed. If plaque is allowed to stay on teeth for too long, it hardens into tartar which is much more difficult to remove.

Tartar can cause more than cavities, though. It can cause tooth discoloration and sensitivity, as well as gum recession and periodontal disease in extreme cases. The best way to reduce tartar formation is to maintain a consistent regimen of brushing, flossing and professional cleanings at least twice a year.

Your local dentist, Eddie C. Orobitg, DMD, and his caring team of dental hygienists, offers more than two decades of experience to Leesburg, FL residents. They bring a warm and caring approach to the profession. For more information about plaque and tartar buildup or to schedule an appointment, contact the Orobitg Dentistry at 352-702-4147 today.