Since plaque and tartar are your mouths most mortal enemies, it’s important to embrace good dental hygiene habits that prevent the build-up of both of these problematic substances. First it’s important to realize that plaque and tarter are different and they need to be addressed properly so they don’t become a serious oral health issue.
Plaque is the sticky, colorless deposit of bacteria that forms on the surface of the teeth. The combination of saliva, food and fluid produce plaque that attaches to the teeth at the gum-line. Plaque that builds up will trap stains on teeth and it is the leading cause of gum disease. There is no way to avoid plaque, everyone has it and it occurs daily so battling plaque is a daily fight that never ceases to exist. Most people know that plaque that is not cleaned off teeth can lead to cavities. Plaque will begin forming on teeth anywhere from four to 12 hours after you brush. Brushing twice a day helps ensure that you are addressing the daily settling of plaque on your teeth, and flossing will help remove plaque from between your teeth and in hard to reach places. Please note that brushing is not enough, floss plays integral role in the fight against plaque.
Tartar or calculus is the hard, crusty deposit on teeth that is caused when calcium and phosphate bind to form crystals on the tooth surface. Over time these crystals harden in the plaque and form calculus. The hard substance becomes bonded to the teeth and can only be removed by a dental professional. Tarter can trap stains on teeth and cause teeth to be discolored. New plaque is attracted to tarter and is more difficult to clean which can lead to more serious oral health problems.
Now that we know what plaque and tartar are, we can share the best ways to help control the buildup of these two separate oral issues.
- Have your teeth cleaned professionally every six months. If your dentist is concerned they may recommend more frequent cleanings.
- Brushing with toothpaste that contains pyrophosphate will help diminish the formation of calculus crystals (aka tartar buildup).
- Brushing with whitening toothpaste can help break the bonds of extrinsic stains caused by plaque or tartar.
- Flossing daily is a necessary preventative measure to fight against plaque and tarter buildup.