We’ve all heard the terms plaque and tartar in reference to the yucky stuff that is on our teeth, but what is plaque? Well, plaque is a thin film of bacteria that is consistently forming on your teeth and gums. The plaque on your teeth actually feeds off of sugars in foods. The sugars are then turned to acids by the bacteria and will wear away your enamel and eventually cause cavities if not removed. Everyone develops plaque, so you shouldn’t be worried about having it on your teeth. You should, however, be worried about removing it from your teeth on a daily basis.
Brushing and flossing is normally sufficient enough to remove most, if not all, of the plaque from your teeth and gums. When plaque is left on teeth and gums, it will harden into tartar. Tartar will also build up on the teeth and gums, and is much more difficult to remove than plaque. Plaque will continue to be attracted to the tartar because it’s a place where the plaque bacteria can grow quickly. Once tartar has formed, it will need to be removed by a dentist in a process called scaling because brushing and flossing is not enough to remove tartar.
You’ll know if you have plaque build-up or tartar in your mouth because your tooth enamel will eventually weaken, causing you to have tooth pain, possible swelling, and sensitivity to hot and cold or sugary substances. Left untreated, tartar can actually develop into much more serious problems, like gingivitis, tooth loss or gum disease.
Prevent these problems from happening by brushing and flossing your teeth twice a day to remove plaque. You can also limit the amount of sugary foods that you eat and sugary drinks that you consume each day to keep plaque at bay. Also remember to schedule regular dentist visits for cleanings and early detection of any tooth or gum issues that a dentist can diagnose and treat!