Posted on 4/10/2019 by Brandon Cooley
|Every dentist warns their patients about plaque and tartar, including us. This is usually brought up while cleaning your teeth when we can tell how well you are doing with brushing and flossing. But many times you don't know the difference between tartar and plaque, which is worse, which comes first, and which one only our professionals can handle.
These are all reasonable questions and you should know what the distinction is. To a certain extent, you have control over both. What you brush with, how often, your flossing habits and how aggressively you brush all affect both tartar and plaque.
What Is the Difference?
Plaque is what comes first. Plaque is an invisible bacteria that accumulates on your teeth as the day wears on. Plaque is formed by interacting with the food that you eat. This interaction creates a plaque that builds up as gunk on your teeth. You've probably noticed that your teeth don't feel the same to your tongue as the day wears on.
Right after you brush your teeth feel smooth and polished. As plaque builds up due to poor dental hygiene, it will convert to plaque on your teeth. Plaque is basically mineralized tartar. It is hard and porous unlike tartar, which is invisible.
How Can You Tell if You Have Tartar?
If you look at your teeth above the gum line you may see a mineral buildup. Tartar is a rough substance, so your tongue may be a better detector. If you smoke or drink coffee or tea, since tartar is porous, it absorbs these substances. You will notice that your teeth are becoming yellow or even tan at the line of your gum. Below your gum line, on your teeth, it may appear brown or even blackjack.
If your gum line starts swelling or gets puffy, you likely have tartar and should come in for an exam and a cleaning. Call us today for an appointment.