Are Plaque and Tartar the Same Thing?
One of the biggest misconceptions we see in periodontics is when our Redondo Beach patients believe plaque and tartar are the same things. The truth is that plaque and tartar are two very different problems and must be addressed in different ways. While both attack our teeth, plaque can be removed daily by our patients in their own homes, but tartar must be removed by our hygiensts in our dental facility. If you are not regularly seen by one of our hygienists (once every six months), it is very likely that you have a lot of tartar build up on your teeth, which needs to be removed to keep your mouth healthy. If you’re not sure if you are dealing with plaque or tartar, keep reading to learn more about how they differ from one another.
What Is Plaque?
Everyone in Redondo Beach has bacteria in their mouth, no matter how well they take care of their oral hygiene. When that bacteria combines with proteins and food “leftovers,” plaque is formed. Plaque is the soft, sticky film that you feel on your teeth and under your gums throughout the day. It can also stick to dental work, such as fillings. Plaque needs to be removed from your teeth regularly by practicing routine oral hygiene – brush twice a day, floss twice a day, and use antiseptic mouthwash once a day. If you do not remove plaque from your teeth, the bacteria it carries can cause damage and lead to cavities, or even worse – gum disease.
And just when you thought plaque was your biggest problem, say hello to tartar. If plaque stays on your teeth for too long, it hardens and turns into tartar, which can cause a lot of damage.
What Is Tartar?
As we mentioned above, tartar is formed when plaque stays on your teeth for too long. Tartar differs from plaque in that plaque is soft and sticky, and tartar is hard and rough. When tartar forms below the gum line, that bacteria we mentioned earlier can sit in little pockets between your teeth and gums. While it sits, it grows, leading to a whole host of problems, such as gum disease and receding gums. And remember, tartar isn’t something you can remove on your own at home. It takes a Redondo Beach dental professional, like our doctors, and special tools in our dental office. But don’t be too discouraged! You can stay ahead of tartar build-up by following these tips:
- Practice good oral hygiene, as mentioned above
- Use tartar-control toothpaste with fluoride
- Avoid foods high in sugar and starch
- Drink plenty of water with your meals and throughout the day
- Don’t smoke
Come See One of Our hygienists Every Six Months
Periodontics focuses on diseases of the structures surrounding and supporting the teeth, such as the gums, cementum, periodontal ligaments, and alveolar bone. If you’re a Redondo Beach resident and you suspect you have tartar build-up on your teeth, that is causing pain, inflammation, or receding gums, be sure to call us at Redondo Beach Dental Group to schedule an appointment with one of our hygienists.
You can reach us by calling our office in the Redondo Beach area at (310) 542-6988 today!