Plaque vs Tartar (Calculus) – What is the Difference!?

Plaque vs Tartar (Calculus) – What is the Difference!?

You may have heard your dentist or dental hygienist refer to plaque, tartar or calculus on your teeth. You may have even noticed the build up yourself! The question is, what is the difference, and why does it matter which type of build up you have?

Plaque – plaque is the softer build up that you can easily see on your teeth when you look closely in the mirror. Plaque can be many different shades but is usually a variation of yellow. Plaque is actually a thin film of bacteria that is constantly forming on the surfaces of the teeth. The bacteria within the plaque produces acid when exposed to acidic and sugary foods. This bacteria is what causes cavities but is easily brushed away with a toothbrush, floss or waterpik, or a combination of these.

Tartar (Calculus) – tartar or calculus is hardened plaque. If plaque is allowed to stay on teeth for more than a few hours, it will harden into tartar or calculus. This hard deposit is rough to the touch and might be white, yellow or even brown. Once calculus has formed, the only way to remove it from your teeth is by having a professional cleaning with a dental hygienist. If calculus is allowed to remain on teeth, it will attract more plaque and bacteria increasing your risk for cavities and it will cause inflammation in the gum tissue resulting in gum disease over time.

To effectively manage the deposits on your teeth that may lead to cavities and gum disease, you need a plan that involves great homecare as well as regular professional intervention. Give us a call at 705 792 0079 to arrange for an appointment with your dental hygienist today!