It is widely understood that both plaque and tartar are enemies to our dental health. But, the difference between the two is less noticeable. Although, there are many important differences between plaque and tartar that should be understood to keep our mouths clean. Here is a breakdown of the differences and some preventative tips to keep in mind:


This sticky, colourless film is made of bacteria that forms along your gum line on your teeth throughout the day. As you eat, bacteria in your mouth produce acid that can erode your teeth. This is known as plaque, and it can make your teeth to weaker, causing sensitivity. 


When too much plaque builds up on your teeth, tartar forms. When this substance stays on your teeth for too long, it starts to become calcified, hardening on your teeth and attaching to the enamel. The longer it remains there, the more difficult it is to remove it. It can become so difficult to remove that only a dental professional can do it. Tartar can cause gum sensitivity, discoloration, and cavities. It can also lead to severe issues like periodontal disease, which is why it is important to pay attention to plaque and tartar buildup.


When you run your tongue across your teeth and feel a fuzzy film on them, that is plaque buildup. It is difficult to see but develops throughout the day. Too much of it can cause gingivitis and other dental issues.

Tartar is essentially a buildup of minerals, making it easier to see on your teeth. It will look yellow or brown in colour along your gum line or between lower front teeth. Tartar will feel firmer and more substantial than plaque.


The primary cause of plaque and tartar is failing to take care of your teeth properly. Bacteria from our mouth turns food into acid, which can eat away at our enamel. Brushing regularly disrupts this process but, when that is not done, more and more acid is produced. More acid production leads to the formation of tartar, which gives plaque more surface area to develop, leading to even more tartar. It is a vicious cycle that can quickly rot your teeth and lead to even more dental problems. 


The best and easiest way to stop plaque and tartar from forming is to brush twice a day for two minutes each time. It is the most effective way to disrupt the cycle and cover all of your teeth. You should also floss at least once a day to get at the plaque between your teeth – twice a day is ideal. Flossing helps remove anything left behind after brushing. On top of that, be sure to schedule at least two visits to the dentist each year for deeper cleaning. A professional can more thoroughly clean your teeth and rid them of stubborn plaque and tartar regular brushing alone cannot remove. 

To learn more about treatment to remove plaque and tartar from your mouth, contact South Georgetown Dental today to schedule an appointment.