|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
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
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 bacteria.
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 disease, including:
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 from forming.