Plaque and Tartar: What are the signs and how to remove them

Dental Plaque and Tartar: What Is It, What are the Causes, How to Remove, Treat and Prevent


Plaque is an extremely sticky, colorless to pale yellow deposit of biofilm that regularly forms on your teeth. Everytime you eat or drink, there it is! Although it is extremely common, plaque on teeth needs to be cleaned and removed on a regular basis- failing which it can turn into somthing serious and damage the teeth. But before we know what causes is, let us discuss what exactly dental plaque is.

What is Dental Plaque?

When saliva, food, and fluids combine they produce bacteria deposits, which collect where the teeth and gums meet. Plaque contains bacteria, which produce acids that attack your tooth enamel and can damage your gums. If not treated, the damage could become permanent. When plaque accumulates and is not removed, it can mineralize, trapping stains and turning into tartar. Plaque is the root cause of many oral health issues. The most effective way to get rid of plaque is by using an electric toothbrush. Learn more about what is Plaque >

What is Tartar?

Tartar is a yellow or brown colored deposit that forms when plaque mineralizes on your teeth. Susceptibility to tartar build up varies greatly depending on the individual person. Generally, as you age, you become more prone to having tartar form on your teeth.Tartar buildup bonds strongly to enamel and can only be removed by a dental professional. If you start seeing any signs of plaque or tartar buildup, be sure to seek treatment immediately.

The difference between Plaque and Tartar

One often confuses plaque and tartar- although they are related to each other, they aren't interchangeable terms. Plaque is the thin, sticky coating that forms on the surface of the teeth when mouth bacteria interacts with tiny leftover food particles. On the other hand, tartar is what plaque hardens into if neglected for a long time. Plaque is often whitish in colour, but once it hardens into tartar, it can become brown or even black and stain the teeth. Now that you know the difference, let us learn what actually causes plaque and tartar.

What Causes Dental Plaque and Tartar?

The biggest reason for dental plaque and tartar are to form is poor oral hygiene. When we eat certain foods which are rich in sugar and starch, it feeds the bacteria present in the mouth and it accelerates the formation of plaque- especially if you don't brush well after. Here are other causes of dental plaque:

  1. Dry mouth due to dehydration or certain medications

  2. Habit of smoking

  3. Consume too much sugar

  4. History of neck or head radiation

What are the Symptoms of Plaque and Tartar?

A simple indicator of plaque is a fuzzy feeling on the teeth. Along with that, here are signs you should look out for:

  • Bad breath, sometimes chronic

  • Swollen and tender gums that bleed after brushing

  • Can be accompanied by cavities, decay, and other tooth and gum diseases like gingivitis

If plaque has already turned into plaque, here are the symptoms:

  • Possible tooth abscess

  • Chronic halitosis

  • Teeth discolouration - yellow, brown or black stains on the surface of the teeth

  • Gum inflammation

What's the Treatment for Plaque and Tartar?

Good oral care routine is your absolute best measure against plaque and tartar formation. However, if it is severe then there are some treatments available for removing plaque from teeth you can consult your dentist for:

  1. Fluoride treatments to stop tooth decay and slow down the bacteria

  2. Medications to counteract dry mouth and increase saliva production

  3. Antibacterial, dental-approved mouthwash

  4. Dental sealants to prevent plaque formation

How can I Prevent Plaque and Tartar?

Plaque buildup can lead to gingivitis and gum disease so it is important to take steps for treatment and prevention.

  1. See your dental professional every 6 months for a thorough cleaning.

  2. Brush with an anti-bacterial fluoride toothpaste.

  3. Floss at least once a day to remove food particles and plaque between teeth.

  4. Use a quality toothbrush and remember to replace it every 3 months.

  5. Add a mouth rinse to your routine to help protect against the buildup of plaque and prevent gingivitis.

  6. Eating well-balanced meals and brushing after snacks will help to reduce the formation of plaque.

When it comes to plaque and tartar, a healthier mouth starts with good brushing habits. So while it is super important to visit the dentist regularly, plaque prevention and good oral care first starts at home. Brush twice daily with superior dental products such as Oral-B electric toothbrush to make sure your teeth gets advanced cleaning every day. Learn more on how to treat and prevent Plaque and Tartar >