What's the Difference between Plaque and Tartar - and Why Should I Care?
There’s no magic to a healthy smile, but you do need to be committed to doing whatever you can to support your oral health including brushing, flossing. But you can’t do it alone, and that’s where your dental team comes in because they provide preventive treatments that support your at-home efforts.
Part of good oral health is educating yourself about basic dental health. You may hear your dentist in Fairfax talk about plaque and tartar, but understanding what they are and how they can damage your oral health is the key to being proactive.
It Starts with Bacteria
No matter how well you brush and floss, there will always be some bacteria lingering in your mouth. Throughout your day, a bacteria-laden biofilm called plaque develops on your teeth. These bacteria consume sugar and other carbohydrates in your mouth and produce acid that eats away at tooth enamel. If you don’t interrupt this process by brushing your teeth, drinking water, or chewing sugarless gum, the acid sits on your teeth and causes cavities.
Even if you do brush and floss thoroughly, the plaque sits in hard-to-reach places that your toothbrush can’t get to like between teeth and under your gums. Over time it turns into a hard, mineral-like substance called tartar or calculus that can lead to swollen or irritated gums that bleed when you brush; this is called gingivitis, an early stage of gum (periodontal) disease.
Dental Exams with Dr. Fairfax
Prevention that includes brushing, flossing, proper diet, and routine dental visits is easy. If you don’t take preventive measures, though, you will likely develop decay or gum disease that can be far more complicated and invasive to treat than just removing plaque and tartar.
The team at Dr. Fairfax & Associates Family Dentistry are here to support your oral health goals by providing the education and treatment you need for a healthy smile. Please call us today to arrange your next cleaning appointment and exam.