10 Frequently Asked Questions About Plaque and Tartar

Your oral health is a good indicator of your overall wellness. Mouth problems are also an indication of other bodily concerns. Practising good oral health routines helps protect the teeth and mouth from germs and bacteria. 

Two of the common words people hear during oral health discussions are plaque and tartar. Here are the some of the most common questions people ask their dentists to regarding these dental conditions:

  1. What is plaque? 
Plaque, if left unchecked, can lead to various dental health problems
Plaque, if left unchecked, can lead to various dental health problems

Dental plaque refers to the sticky, colourless film of bacteria and sugar that forms on the tooth. It is considered the main cause of gum disease and cavities. It is a byproduct of saliva, food, and bacteria. It can be removed daily by brushing and flossing. 

It can develop under the gums on tooth roots and eventually break down the bones supporting the teeth. Untreated plaque will harden and become tartar. 

  1. How do you get plaque? 

Every person develops plaque because of the food they consume. These contain starches and sugars regardless if they are considered healthy or not. Milk, egg, wheat, raisins, cake, candy, soda, and all other types of food that people eat can cause plaque. The bacteria that live in the mouth thrive because of these foods. 

Everyone has dental plaque in their mouth. The fuzzy feeling on your teeth indicates its presence. A dentist can use a mirror to determine the severity of the deposit.

  1. What is tartar? 

Tartar is also referred to as calculus. It forms when plaque is not managed and hardens on the tooth. It can also form under the gum line and irritate the gum tissues. This gives plaque more surface area to grow and a stickier surface to adhere to. 

Tartar can threaten the health of the teeth and gums and even become a cosmetic problem. Being more porous, it can absorb stains easily so coffee or tea drinkers, smokers, and fans of heavily-coloured foods can have easily-stained teeth because of it.

  1. How is tartar formed?

It all starts with plaque build-up. If a person does not properly clean their teeth after eating, plaque settles and begins to calcify. Bad dental hygiene practices like skipping or improper brushing, not flossing, and not using fluoride toothpaste cause this build-up, creating layers of tartar. 

It will take a bit more time before large deposits of tartar become noticeable. When you check your teeth and gums, you will notice that there are yellow, brown, or black stains. There are also instances when it blends in with the colour of the tooth.

  1. Who is likely to get a plaque build-up?

Everyone gets plaque because it is a byproduct of eating. It can only settle if a person does not practice good oral hygiene like brushing with fluoride toothpaste twice a day and flossing. 

  1. What are the symptoms of tartar? 

You will easily notice tartar build-up by feeling your teeth. You will feel a rough substance in the mouth that can’t be removed by brushing alone. Also, check below the gum line if there is swelling. Above, you will see a yellow or tan deposit that grows larger if not removed. The gum will appear brownish or black and usually bleed when brushing.

  1. What are the complications of plaque and tartar build-up?

A dental abscess is a common result of plaque and tartar build-up. It refers to the collection of pus inside the teeth or gums that can cause excruciating pain and tooth loss. 

This infection happens when bacteria attack the tooth’s soft pulp. It is advisable to meet with a dentist near Etobicoke, Toronto when you feel the pain because the longer you wait, the more likely that the infection will spread to the bone or neighbouring teeth. 

Most people who suffer from gingivitis and other periodontal diseases are also affected by these two calculi. The gums get irritated by these deposits resulting in irritation. The gums will appear discoloured and swollen. 

Cavities are also common complications of plaque and tartar. This happens when holes are formed on the teeth due to the erosion of tooth enamel by oral acids. If not properly addressed, it can lead to toothaches, infections, and tooth extractions. How the dentist will remove tooth decay depends on how severe the cavity is.

  1. How are these diagnosed?

Even if you can feel these deposits on your tooth, it is still important to meet with a family dentist. An ocular check is done using a mirror. A probing sharp can also be used to check the depth of the deposit. You may assume that your mouth is clean and free of plaque or tartar but dental professionals have more training and knowledge in determining the status of your oral health.

  1. What are the treatments to manage plaque and tartar? 
Regular dental cleaning is a way to thoroughly remove plaque and tartar.
Regular dental cleaning is a way to thoroughly remove plaque and tartar.

If you notice that your teeth and gums have these calculi deposits, call in for a prophylaxis or cleaning schedule. Dental cleaning in Toronto should help you get rid of these safely.

A dental prophylaxis is a routine procedure where the hygienist will update the patient’s medical history. Aside from checking for changes in the dental position, changes in position, and oral cancer susceptibility, it also involves “cleaning” using ultrasonic and hand instruments. The calculi deposits will be removed from the teeth and gum line. It will be capped by polishing and cleaning between the teeth to make sure no deposits are left. Ideally, it is done twice a year although some patients may need to have more frequent visits to a family dentist.

  1. How to prevent calculi build-up?

The secret to a healthy and plaque and tartar-free mouth is by practising good oral habits. Here are some of the steps to follow daily:

  • Brush using a soft-bristled toothbrush at least twice a day.
  • Use fluoride toothpaste.
  • Rinse with a fluoride mouthwash after washing to kill bacteria that you missed.
  • Floss once a day to remove food stuck in between teeth. If you have trouble using thread-like floss, you can use alternatives like interdental brushes. Do not miss this step to remove the viscous plaque that brushing alone can’t remove.
  • Visit a dental professional regularly to check and clean the mouth thoroughly. 

Tartar and plaque are calculi deposits that can affect the health of your mouth. If not properly treated, they can lead to an abscess, pain, gum disease, and tooth loss. A regular checkup with a dentist in Etobicoke, Ontario helps patients maintain their smile.

Don’t wait for problems to arise, call Dr. Mark Rhody Dentistry, a dentist in Etobicoke, at 416-231-4281 to book an appointment now. 

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