Plaque and Tartar Control
Patients often confuse plaque and tartar and how they are related to each other. Plaque is a sticky, colorless deposit of bacteria that is constantly forming on teeth. Saliva, food and fluids combine to produce these deposits that collect on teeth and where teeth and gums meet.
Plaque begins forming on teeth 4 to 12 hours after brushing which is why it is so important to brush at least twice a day and floss daily. Plaque which is not removed by regular brushing and flossing, can harden into unsightly tartar (also known as calculus ). This hard crusty deposit creates a cohesive bond that can only be removed by a dentist (or or dental hygienist). Tartar formation may also make it more difficult for you to remove new plaque and bacteria. The photographs below show tartar, or calculus, formation from slight to heavy .
You can help reduce the formation of tartar (calculus) by:
Individuals vary greatly in their susceptibility to plaque and tartar. For many of us, these deposits build up faster as we age. Fighting tartar is a life-long component of oral care.
Copyright © 1996 by Kurt A. Butzin, DDS, Saginaw, MI, USA