What Are Plaque and Tartar?

What Are Plaque and Tartar?

You know how your parents always made you brush your teeth at least twice a day and you grumbled about it day after day? Turns out your parents were right (just like they were on a lot of other issues).

Brushing your teeth is a vital defense to preventing the buildup of plaque and tartar on your teeth. Left alone, these substances can cause tremendous damage to your oral health.

That’s why it’s so important to understand just what plaque and tartar are, and how to fight against them. Here’s what you need to know, courtesy of the experts at Airport Dental Care in Austin, Texas.

What is plaque?

Plaque is nasty. It’s a soft, sticky film that coats your teeth as you eat throughout the day. Plaque contains over 500 species of bacteria, some that are good for you and some that aren’t.

The harmful bacteria mix with your saliva and the food you eat to produce acid that attacks the hard enamel coating on your teeth. 

This is especially a problem when you eat or drink something in the carbohydrate or sugar family; the more acid that’s produced, the more likely you are to have tooth decay and cavities.

You can remove plaque from your teeth with regular brushing and flossing.

What is tartar?

Tartar is the next logical step after plaque. If you let the plaque harden on your teeth, it combines with minerals in your saliva to form tartar. This is much more difficult to remove; in fact, it can only be removed by a dental professional.

Not only does tartar lead to tooth decay, it can settle below your gumline and cause gingivitis (swollen, bleeding, red gums) and eventually periodontitis. With periodontitis, your gums start to peel back from your teeth, which can lead to your teeth loosening and falling out. 

How can you fight plaque and tartar?

The best defense against plaque and tartar is practicing good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth twice a day (thanks, Mom) for at least two minutes each time. You should also floss once a day to remove plaque from hard-to-reach areas where a toothbrush just won’t fit.

You should also limit your sugary snacks and drinks. When you do eat or drink something sweet, brush your teeth as soon as you can afterward.

Finally, don’t skip your regular dental checkups. Visiting your dentist every six months is important for both your oral hygiene (you can’t remove tartar at home) and to keep any small problems from becoming larger, more complex and more expensive.

If you think you need to see a dentist to help deal with plaque and tartar issues, Dr. Brian LaBombard at Airport Dental Care is happy to take a look. Just call the office or use the Book Now button to schedule your appointment today.

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