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Why Does Plaque Become Tartar?

 Brunette young man wearing a green jacket at the beach wonders about plaque and tartar on teeth

Plaque is one thing to battle, but tartar is a completely different—and more difficult—issue. Which may make you wonder: why and when does plaque actually become tartar?

What Is Plaque?

Plaque is that pesky, sticky film of bacteria that forms on your teeth throughout the day. If you don’t properly brush or floss it away, the plaque will release harmful acid as it breaks down starches and sugars on your teeth, which in turn will harm and damage your oral health. Plaque buildup can lead to sensitive teeth, discoloration, decay, cavities, and gum disease.

What Is Tartar?

When plaque isn’t removed in a proper or timely manner, minerals from your saliva can interact with it and cause it to harden on the surface of your teeth. It doesn’t take very long for plaque to become tartar, either: you can expect to form tartar within 1-3 days if you don’t remove plaque properly. The key difference between plaque and tartar is that the latter requires the help of a dental hygienist to remove because it is calcified and essentially bonded to the surface of your teeth.

How to Prevent Plaque & Tartar

First and foremost, consistent brushing and flossing twice daily is the best way to maintain clean teeth and gums. Don’t forget to brush behind your teeth as well, since that is where many people experience tartar growth. Additionally, consider investing in an electric toothbrush and water flosser to help you reach all the nooks and crannies in your mouth, especially if you have braces, dentures, or overcrowded teeth.

We Want to Help You Achieve Superb Oral Health!

It only takes a few minutes a day of proper oral care to prevent a host of health complications in the future. And as always, our expert team at Amber Hills Dental is here to to help you with all your oral healthcare needs. We look forward to seeing you for your six-month checkup and cleaning! At your appointment, we will remove any built-up plaque and tartar from your teeth and ensure that your teeth are in tip-top shape. Contact us to schedule your visit today!