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Silver Lake Dentist: Difference Between Plaque & Tartar

November 23, 2015

There are a few questions we dentists get all the time. Some are simple to answer: how often should I floss? Every day. Other questions, though, require a little more thought and explanation. One thing a lot of patients ask about is this: what’s the difference between plaque and tartar? It’s a great question, and knowing the answer can greatly improve your oral health. Today Dr. Michael Michel, your trusted Silver Lake dentist, weighs in on plaque and tartar.

Plaque Happens First

The easiest way to think of plaque is this: it’s what happens first. Plaque is the slimy, clear substance that develops on your teeth throughout the day — and because it forms in as little as four hours, you’re constantly battling it. Twice daily brushing and daily flossing are vital in removing the substance, which can cause problems when left on the teeth, because…

Tartar Is Hardened Plaque

Tartar is what happens after plaque. It’s the hard, yellow substance that forms at the gumline and between teeth, and it’s simply plaque that wasn’t removed by excellent brushing and flossing.

Because tartar is both hard and porous, it’s a good place for bacteria to hide, meaning it leaves your teeth and gums at a major risk for decay and infection. Tartar is actually the leading cause of gum disease and periodontitis, both of which are commonly accompanied by tooth loss.

You should also know that once the hard substance we call tartar has formed on the teeth, you can’t remove it at home — it must be taken off by a professional in an in-depth cleaning.

Prevent Tartar to Keep Teeth and Gums Healthy

When you develop good oral hygiene habits, brushing for two minutes, twice a day, flossing once a day and visiting your Silver Lake dentist every six months, you’re taking the necessary steps to remove plaque and prevent tartar — and that means you’re preventing more serious issues, too, like gum disease, tooth decay and missing teeth.

In short, remember this for excellent oral health: First comes plaque, and then tartar — remove one to prevent the other.

Schedule Your Six Month Cleaning in Silver Lake Today

If it’s been more than six months since your last dental cleaning and exam, you desperately need to visit your Silver Lake dentist. Remember that when left on the teeth, tartar can cause severe oral problems — let us clean that yellow substance off for you before it does! Call us to schedule your appointment with Dr. Michel today.

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