Differences Between Plaque and Tartar

Differences Between Plaque and Tartar

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What is the difference between plaque and tartar? Is there a difference and does anyone know the difference? Many people confuse the two as one in the same, and they wouldn’t be wrong…technically. When it comes to technicalities, there are always loop holes. Technically, plaque and tartar are the same, but tartar is plaque that begins to harden on the teeth, becoming harder to remove.


Plaque is a natural thing on teeth, everyone deals with plaque. Plaque is a clear, sticky substance that forms on teeth like a film. Plaque naturally builds up after eating, drinking, and saliva, but it contains harmful bacteria. When plaque forms, it tends to stick around the gum line, and without being cleaned off the teeth, can form infection. Plaque is essential to diminish as best as possible so you do not cause your gums to become irritated and diseased, or tooth decay and cavities.


Tartar, like plaque builds up on the tooth surface. Tartar is the formation of plaque that is left to settle on the teeth and into the space between the teeth. Tartar is plaque that is left on the teeth, that mineralizes over time, which causes the hardness. Tartar becomes yellowed, and aged looking as it continues to sit untouched.

Unfortunately, there is no way to stop plaque, but you can stop tartar. Brushing and flossing is recommended to clean plaque from the teeth and gums. When you clean the plaque away day and night, you will not have to suffer from tartar, because there will be no plaque to mineralize.

Suffering from buildup of plaque or tartar may result in needing extra dental care. If you fall into this category, schedule an appointment with your dentist and their skilled team. When you seek a professional cleaning, your dental staff will use scrapers and water picks to ensure your teeth are clean. Advanced technology like a water pick will floss your teeth with a pressurized system. During this cleaning, your dentist will be able to do a thorough cleaning of your teeth and discuss any other methods you could take to ensure you do not accumulate plaque or tartar.

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