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The Difference Between Tartar & Plaque

A young boy getting his teeth cleaned

Many people use the terms ‘plaque’ and ‘tartar’ interchangeably when talking about the bacteria or buildup on their teeth. Our office puts a strong emphasis on patient education, and we want to help you learn the difference between these two harmful substances so that you can better care for your child’s oral health!

What Is Plaque?

Plaque is a clear and sticky substance that is continually forming on the teeth. Your saliva combines with the bacteria and food particles in your mouth to create plaque. Plaque is what makes your teeth feel sticky and fuzzy between brushing!

Plaque can begin to form just hours after brushing and will continue to build up until you brush it away again. This is why it’s so essential to be brushing at least twice a day, morning and night. It’s essential to interrupt this buildup of plaque as often as possible to keep your teeth healthy.

What Is Tartar?

If you don’t remove the plaque buildup thoroughly and regularly, it will begin to harden into a substance called tartar (or sometimes called calculus). Tartar is the hardening of the plaque that has accumulated on your teeth, and your toothbrush will not be enough to remove tartar buildup. Tartar can only be removed with the help of your dentist. 

If not treated quickly, tartar can increase your chances of tooth decay and gum disease, both of which can be painful and expensive to treat.

For any questions on how to help your child maintain a healthy smile, please call Firestone Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics in Firestone, Colorado.  

Posted on Jul 13, 2020

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