Many people ask us at Smiles Nambour if there’s a difference between plaque and tartar? This is because plaque and tartar buildup are common dental problems.
But while plaque buildup can result in tooth decay and gum disease, tartar is actually calcified plaque, a hard-mineral deposit that forms on teeth and can lead to even more serious dental issues.
Both are bad for your dental health, and understanding their relationship and treatment can help you deal with any plaque or tartar issues in your mouth.
What is the difference?
Plaque is soft and can be removed by a toothbrush and floss. This means good dental hygiene at home can save you from most of the problems that plaque causes.
However, if plaque is not regularly removed, it begins to collect minerals from your saliva. Within 24 hours these minerals cause the plaque to begin hardening. At this point it becomes tartar This 24-hour period before plaque hardens is why daily brushing and flossing is so important!
The dangers of plaque
Plaque is so sticky that it holds the acids in contact with your teeth. Over time this acid breaks down the enamel protecting your teeth and causes dental decay.
Plaque buildup is also implicated in gum disease. It can cause gingivitis, the tender and swollen gums that may bleed. If it progresses, severe periodontal (gum) disease can develop. Severe periodontal disease causes gums to pull away from teeth, allowing the bacteria to destroy the bone supporting the teeth.
As mentioned above, plaque also develops into tartar, and you cannot remove tartar with a toothbrush and floss. A dental professional must use specific tools to scrape or scale it off of the tooth surface.
How to fight plaque
Fighting plaque is not difficult if you take proper care of your teeth and gums at home as well as scheduling routine dental checkups. Brushing at least twice a day and flossing in between teeth daily, as well rinsing with a fluoride rinse are the best ways to battle plaque. Since sugar mixed with bacteria in your saliva causes plaque buildup another good tactic is to cut back on the amount of sugary snacks you eat. Healthier snacks like cheeses, nuts, and raw vegetables have less sugar and also contain nutrients like calcium that actually strengthen your teeth enamel.
What effects does tartar have on teeth and gums?
Once tartar forms, it makes brushing and flossing less effective, and you lose your front line defense against tooth decay and cavities. The bacteria tartar harbours can irritate and damage gums leading to to progressive gum disease, which can have serious consequences if left untreated.
If tartar is not removed and gingivitis is untreated, it can progress into periodontitis, in which pockets form between the teeth and gums. Those pockets become infected by bacteria beneath the gums, which the body fights by releasing chemicals that can combine with bacterial excretion to damage the bone and other tissues that hold the teeth in place. This can lead to tooth and bone loss. In addition, studies have shown that bacteria in gum disease may contribute to heart disease and other conditions.
Treating tartar buildup
The only effective way to treat tartar buildup is to see your Smiles Nambour dentist. We can perform a scale and polish to remove tartar on your teeth.
Scaling gets rid of tartar buildup and restores the surface of your teeth. Dental scaling is the careful removal of tartar from the tooth’s surface. There are two basic methods for scaling teeth. Your dentist may choose an ultrasonic instrument to scale your teeth. This features a vibrating metal tip combined with a cool water spray. The tip chips tartar away as the water flushes out the pocket.
If your dentist uses handheld instruments, he or she will scrape plaque from the tooth using hand tools that can scrape of finer tartar deposits.
In most cases, an ultrasonic scaling will be followed by a hand scaling and a polish to smooth your teeth.
Dental scaling is sometimes followed by a procedure known as root planing. Root planing reaches deeper to address the surface of the tooth’s root. This is done in the same way as scaling. Root planing smoothes the surface of the root so the gums can reattach properly.
Dentistry at Smiles Nambour
Smiles Nambour is the perfect choice for dental care in the Nambour area! We can give you a simple cleaning, scale your teeth, plane roots, or perform any dental service you require. We offer a full range of dental services and treatments, and can always help you with a recommendation.
At Smiles Nambour, we provide top-quality dentistry with the help of cutting-edge instruments and caring staff!
A visit to Smiles Nambour is an investment in your dental health and attractive smile!
Call (07) 5441 4438 or visit us at 4/104 Currie St in Nambour.