PATIENTS OFTEN CONFUSE PLAQUE AND TARTAR
AND HOW THEY ARE RELATED TO EACH OTHER
Plaque is a sticky, colorless deposit of
bacteria that is constantly forming on the
tooth surface. Saliva, food, and fluids combine
to produce these deposits that collect on
teeth and where teeth and gums meet.
The buildup of plaque can trap stains on
the teeth, and it is also the primary factor
in gum disease. Fighting plaque is a life-long
part of good oral care.
Plaque begins forming on teeth 4 to 12 hours
after brushing, which is why it is so important
to brush at least twice a day and floss daily.
Tartar, also called calculus, is a crusty
deposit that can trap stains on the teeth
and cause discoloration. It creates a strong
bond that can only be removed by a dental
professional. Tartar formation may also make
it more difficult to remove new plaque and
Individuals vary greatly in their susceptibility
to plaque and tartar. For many of us, these
deposits build up faster as we age.
The photographs show the degrees of tartar
(or calculus) formation.
There are many stages and forms of periodontal
Calcium and phosphate bind to form crystals
on the teeth. These calcium phosphate crystals
eventually harden within plaque, forming
calculus. Certain types of chemicals called
pyrophosphates help to decrease calculus
buildup by stopping the growth of crystals
on the tooth surface and preventing new crystals