Plaque and Tartar


What is the difference between plaque and tartar?

  • Plaque is the sticky, colorless film of bacteria that forms on your teeth constantly. Proper brushing with toothpaste and toothbrush and flossing can help remove it.

  • Tartar is an accumulation of hardened plaque and mineral deposits, yellow or brown in color that can only be removed by your dentist or hygienist.


How can I remove plaque?

  • It's easy to prevent plaque buildup with the proper care. Brush thoroughly at least twice a day with toothpaste and toothbrush to remove plaque from the inner, outer and chewing surfaces of your teeth.

  • Floss daily to remove plaque from between teeth and under your gumline where your toothbrush may not reach. And visit your dentist and hygienist regularly for professional cleanings.


How do I know if I have any of the problems caused by plaque?

  • Only your dentist or hygienist can detect the early stages of tooth decay, gum disease or other diseases when he or she examines you. That's one reason regular dental checkups are so important.


How can I prevent tartar buildup?

  • Once tartar has formed, only your dentist or hygienist can remove it. The process of removing tartar is called a prophylaxis ("prophy" for short). During a prophy, the dentist or hygienist uses a special instrument to clean your teeth above and below the gumline.

  • However, proper brushing with tartar control toothpaste and flossing can help reduce plaque and tartar buildup and also help to make your next prophy a little easier.


Do tartar control toothpastes really work?

  • Yes, tartar control toothpastes have been proven to prevent tartar from forming above the gumline.