Dentists Explain the Difference Between Plaque and Tartar

Every time your child shows resistance to brushing his teeth, you tell him that his teeth can get messed up due to the accumulation of plaque.

Many parents use the terms plaque and tartar interchangeably, thinking that both refer to one and the same thing. But as dentists explain the difference between plaque and tartar, parents (and their kids) will gain better insight into oral health and the importance of practicing good oral hygiene habits.

What is plaque?

Plaque is a soft, sticky substance that is comprised of bacteria, food debris and the byproducts of bacteria.

Parents should be aware that plaque is constantly forming in the mouths of people. Fortunately, it can easily be removed through regular brushing, flossing and rinsing of the mouth. From time to time, you and your child should visit the dentist to have the plaque that you may have missed from brushing and flossing removed.

On its own, plaque can cause a few dental problems, including cavities. Eventually, when plaque is not removed, it can harden and form into tartar.

What is tartar?

Tartar is a hard, non-sticky substance that begins to form on the teeth when plaque is not effectively removed from the mouth. It consists of mineral deposits from the saliva.

Tartar can create a rough, porous surface on the teeth. In turn, this makes the teeth more vulnerable to bacteria as they now have a surface that they can attach to.

Now, when the amount of bacteria built up from tartar becomes too great, the condition can progress to periodontal disease.

And unlike plaque which can be easily removed by regularly practicing good oral hygiene habits, tartar can only be removed by trained professionals.

Keeping plaque and tartar at bay

Regular brushing and flossing are your child’s first defenses against plaque and tartar. Your child should brush his teeth at least twice a day, preferably after each meal. Flossing can be done once a day, either before or after brushing the teeth.

Apart from teaching and encouraging your child to brush and floss his teeth regularly, there are a few things parents can do to help keep both plaque and tartar at bay.

First, make sure that your kid visits his dentist regularly. During these visits, your dentist can perform dental exams and remove plaque and tartar that may have built up.

Second, limit your child’s consumption of sugary and starchy food and drinks. The bacteria found in the mouth love to eat sugar and starch and can contribute to the formation of plaque.

Schedule an appointment with one of our dentists today!

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