Plaque and Tartar

Definition

The colorless, sticky film of bacteria that is formed constantly on your teeth and along the gum lines is known as plaque. It contains bacteria that can cause cavities and gum disease. If not removed by flossing or brushing it can harden into tartar also called as calculus, which is the hardened film attached to your enamel on your teeth and beneath your gum line.

Signs & Symptoms

Everyone is prone to developing plaque because bacteria is constantly growing in our mouths, which is not necessarily easy to spot. Plaque that we fail to remove from around our gum lines can cause inflammation and irritation to the gums around your teeth, leading to serious issues such as gingivitis (red, swollen, bleeding gums). If issues such as gingivitis are not treated, it can progress to periodontal disease and, possibly, leading to tooth loss.

Unlike plaque, tartar is easier to spot as it is mineral build up. The most common way to spot tartar is a to see the yellow or brown deposit between the lower front teeth or at the gum line. The only way to get rid of tartar completely is to see your dentist or dental hygienist for a professional cleaning.

Cause

The leftover food in our mouths become a safe house for bacteria to thrive on leftovers such as sugars and carbohydrates, which produce acids that attack the surface of the tooth. Furthermore, if proper tooth brushing and flossing are not conducted efficiently each day it leads to more plaque and tartar development.

 

Prevention

You can prevent build up with proper care. Make sure to:

Brushing twice a day thoroughly to remove any plaque on the surface.

Flossing everyday to ensure you remove the plaque from between your teeth and under your gum line, where your toothbrush may not have the access.

Avoid starchy or sugary foods, especially sticky snacks.

Treatment

Scaling a process of removing tartar. Special instruments such as ultrasonic, curettes and hand scalers are used to remove tartar and the plaque from your gum line.

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