Plaque vs. Tartar: Differences and Treatment

Plaque is a sticky bacterial film that builds on the teeth and gums. Tartar is a hardened plaque. Plaque and tartar form from sugars and starches left in the mouth. This bacterial buildup can lead to gum disease and cavities. Gum disease inflames and irritates the gum tissue, while cavities break down natural teeth. Learn the signs of plaque and tartar, how the two differ from each other, and how we remove plaque and tartar to prevent tooth decay and gum disease in Chicago, IL.

Plaque and Tartar in Chicago, Illinois

Indicators of Plaque and Tartar Buildup

Plaque is a colorless film that builds on teeth. There are several symptoms that accompany plaque buildup: 

  • Red and swollen gums
  • Halitosis (bad breath)
  • A “fuzzy” feeling on your teeth 

Common signs of tartar include: 

  • Discoloration due to particles or stains on teeth
  • White deposits on the gums between teeth
  • A rough feeling on the teeth

Over time, plaque and tartar buildup contribute to gum disease and cavities. Ultimately, harmful bacteria feed on sugars and carbohydrates, creating digestive acids that break down the gum tissue and tooth structure. It’s important to prevent plaque from hardening and becoming tartar. 

How to Treat Plaque and Tartar in Chicago

Sugars and carbohydrates attract harmful bacteria to different areas of the mouth. Drinking water after eating, brushing, flossing, and following a healthy diet can help stop plaque and tartar buildup. It should be easy to remove plaque from the teeth and gums with a good oral hygiene routine. Many patients may skip flossing because they do not think it will make any difference in their oral health. However, flossing before brushing can help remove food debris and bacterial buildup. Flossing and then brushing twice a day for two minutes each time can minimize bacteria in the mouth. 

Only a dental professional can effectively remove tartar. We recommend that patients schedule a dental cleaning every six months to minimize bacterial buildup and prevent bacteria from infecting natural teeth and gum tissue. Our dental hygienists use stainless steel dental tools to remove tartar and plaque from the teeth and gums. They can also use antibacterial rinses and deep cleaning treatments if patients have symptoms of periodontitis or gum disease. 

Do you need a dental cleaning? Call Gayed Dental for treatment today at (773) 549-2881. You may also request a dental appointment with us online. If you have questions about preventing harmful bacterial buildup at home, please let us know at your next visit.