Plaque and tartar are not the same. Plaque is soft and can easily be removed by brushing and flossing, while tartar has hardened in place and can only be removed by special dental tools.
Plaque happens when bacteria builds up on your teeth. When you eat and drink, they metabolize the sugars and starches in the food, leaving a scaly substance on the enamel.
Once plaque hardens and becomes tartar, it becomes more difficult to remove. Plaque and tartar break down tooth enamel and can cause tooth lesions, cavities, or gum problems. The techniques used to remove plaque and tartar depends on the thickness of the buildup, your overall oral health and whether or not you have any cavities or gum disease.
To effectively remove tartar and plaque, we need to know exactly where these deposits are. Some are visible above the gumline, others require a deeper inspection. During an exam, we may take x-rays of your teeth to see the position of your teeth, but also look for cavities and tartar deposits.
Good Dental Hygiene Starts At Home
Dentists can help fix dental problems you have, however, removing plaque and preventing tartar starts at home. The best way to prevent plaque and tartar build-up is by having good dental hygiene at home, such as brushing twice a day (two minutes at each session), and flossing once a day. It’s also helpful to avoid sugary foods and drinks, which will increases bacteria growth.
Maintain A Good Routine
The best way to brush and floss regularly is to make it part of your daily routine. If you have a busy morning routine, or you are too tired at night, make time at another point in the day.
Upgrade Your Toothbrush and Floss
If you have trouble reaching parts of your mouth while brushing or flossing, consider upgrading your toothbrush or floss. An ultrasonic toothbrush uses fast-moving, spinning heads to remove more plaque. A water flosser eliminates the need for floss, or a floss pick can help you reach difficult spots.
Avoid Sugary Foods
Avoiding sugary foods is good for your health in general, but we all like to indulge sometimes. If you have a sweet drink, such as soda, fruit juice, coffee, etc, drink water with it or after to rinse some of the sugar off your teeth. When eating a sugary snack, also drink water.