By Aspen Dental
Plaque vs tartar
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PLAQUE AND TARTER?
Plaque is soft:
Everyone has bacteria in their mouth. Some strains of bacteria are good. However, some are bad and cause halitosis (bad breath), gingivitis, periodontal disease, and cavities. Throughout the day the bacteria in our mouth reproduce and build a slime layer to protect themselves and their colony. This mass of bacteria and slime is called “biofilm” or “plaque.” Plaque is soft and can easily be brushed or flossed off. Mouth rinse will kill bacteria, but unless you mechanically remove the plaque, your teeth will have a fuzzy layer for the bacteria to quickly reestablish and start multiplying. After 12 hours of not brushing and flossing, everyone will start to build some plaque.
Tarter is hard:
After 24-48 hours of not removing plaque, it will start to mineralize and turn into tarter (calculus). Tarter is hard and cannot be removed by brushing or flossing. It will need to be scaled off by a dental professional. It is normal, even with good home care, to build a little tarter. This is why it is important to get your teeth cleaned regularly.