What is the Difference Between Plaque and Tartar?

Plaque and tartar are technically the same thing, just a different stage of the same issue since plaque, if left alone, will eventually turn into tartar.

Plaque is the sticky film that develops over the surface of your teeth. It often goes unnoticed as it’s normally colourless, but it can be a pale yellow as well. Inside the plaque lives bacteria that feeds on sugar and carbohydrates, and if left alone has the potential to cause tooth decay, and swelling in the gums. Plaque, however, is able to be easily removed with regular brushing throughout the day, but if it’s not removed, it turns to tartar.

Tartar unfortunately cannot be removed with brushing alone as it’s the hardened version of plaque and can only be removed by a dentist by means of a sharp tool. Therefore, it’s much better to brush the recommended twice a day to avoid the build-up.

The third and final stage can become many things, but some of the things that tartar can turn into, if not treated in a timely manner include:

  • Cavities
  • Gingivitis
  • Halitosis (commonly known as bad breath)

To prevent the buildup of calculus, regular brushing and bi-yearly trips to the dentist can keep your mouth free of harmful bacteria. Schedule your next appointment with your dentist as soon as possible if you have not already done so for a cleaning, or feel free to ask any further questions you have about plaque, tartar, and what you can do at home to prevent them.