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How much do you know about dental plaque and tartar


Dental plaque is a sticky, colorless film that continuously forms on teeth and distributes along the gum line. Dental plaque contains bacteria that can induce dental caries and gum disease. If the plaque that is formed is not removed by proper brushing and flossing, it will harden into tartar (sometimes called tartar), which is calcified (or hardened) plaque attached to the enamel or below the gum line.

Signs and symptoms

Because bacteria continue to grow in the mouth, everyone will have dental plaque, but it is not easy to detect. If plaque is not removed from around the gum line, it can irritate and inflame the gums that surround the teeth, leading to gingivitis (redness, swelling, and bleeding gums). If gingivitis is not treated in time, it will worsen into periodontal disease and even cause tooth loss.
Unlike dental plaque, tartar is an accumulation of minerals that is easy to detect if it is located above the gum line. The most common sign of tartar is yellow or brown deposits between teeth or at the gum line. Professional cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist is the only way to completely remove tartar.


After the meal is over, many foods will stay in the oral cavity for a long time. Bacteria in the mouth rely on these food residues (usually sugars and carbohydrates) to grow and produce acidic substances that attack the surface of teeth. In addition, if you cannot effectively brush and floss your teeth every day, more plaque will form and even develop into tartar. Tartar provides a larger surface for dental plaque to grow and a more sticky and adherent surface. If it cannot be removed by brushing and flossing your teeth every day, dental plaque will accumulate and related bacteria will not only infect the patient's gums and teeth, but also the gum tissue and bones that support the teeth.


The process of removing tartar is called scraping. During the scraping, the dentist or dental hygienist uses special instruments (ultrasonic and hand-held scrapers and curettes) to remove tartar and plaque on the teeth and above and below the gum line.

Related conditions
Without proper treatment, tartar and plaque can cause various oral problems, such as dental caries, gum disease and tooth loss. It is important to brush your teeth twice a day, floss your teeth once a day, and ask your dentist for oral examinations and professional cleaning regularly.