Plaque and Tartar: Ways To Know The Difference

Dental hygiene practices should be more than just a practice, they should be part of your routine. By using the proper brushing techniques, flossing daily after a meal, and selecting high-quality toothpaste, you can kill the bacteria in the mouth that leads to plaque build-up and later stubborn tartar. Many individuals believe that plaque and tartar are the same thing, and is some ways they are correct. The main difference between plaque and tartar is that plaque will turn into tartar over time if it is not targeted. Read on, and learn how you can identify plaque and tartar.


How Does It Look?

Plaque is a sticky white substance that is soft and will typically build up around your gum line. This filmy substance is actually a combination of both saliva and particles that are left behind after a meal and will collect on and around the teeth on a daily basis. While plaque itself is not harmful, failing to clean it away at least twice daily can lead to dental problems.


tartar build up by by Bugmore – commons.


Tartar does not resemble plaque because it is hard, crusty, yellow and extremely porous. While plaque is not completely preventable, tartar is if plaque build up cleaned away in a timely manner. According to Dr Bryan Murray, an experienced Brooks dentist, plaque removal is imperative if you want to avoid tartar that can lead to cavities, gingivitis and also periodontal disease


What Does It Smell Like?

Plaque is a filmy white coating that has no smell in itself. While plaque itself does not smell, when it builds up the bacteria mixed with saliva is what will lead to halitosis. If you would like to avoid having bad breath, you should focus on targeting the places where plaque easily builds up and bacteria thrives.

Tartar turns your teeth yellow, and also becomes extremely smelly because the bacteria continues to feed. As the bacteria in the mouth thrives in the crevices of the gumline that is difficult to reach, the smell will become worse.


How Does It Feel?

If you were to run your tongue along teeth with plaque build-up, you may feel a filmy substance that would rub off the surface of the tooth easily. This is because plaque can be wiped or brushed away.

Tartar cannot be wiped or brushed away. It is very hard and has the texture of a rough seashell. Because it adheres to tooth enamel, it will require professional removal.


How Long Does it Take For Plaque to Transform Into Tartar?

It takes about 48 hours for plaque to begin hardening. It takes about 12 days for plaque to become yellow, porous and impossible to remove with brushing. This is when plaque is classified as tartar. If you have had plaque for more than two weeks, chances are it is now tartar.


Plaque and tartar are both types of bacteria that live in the mouth. Remember that the mouth is the gateway to the body and good hygiene habits are key. Make oral care your routine and never overlook the importance of visiting a dentist regularly.