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If you are in the habit of having regular dental checkups and cleanings (and we certainly hope you are!) you’ve probably heard the words “tartar” and “plaque” mentioned more than once by your dentist or hygienist. You may have been too preoccupied at that moment to grasp the meaning of these two little words, so our friendly dentist at Lodi Family Dentistry wants to help you understand the role plaque and tartar play in your oral health.
First, let’s discuss plaque, that soft, sticky coating that builds up on our teeth, containing a mix of food, saliva and bacteria. Plaque carries more than 500 different types of bacteria, according to the American Dental Association. Some of that bacteria is harmful, producing acids that can wear away the hard, protective coating of your teeth known as the enamel. Damage to the enamel can be permanent, because it does not grow back.
When plaque is not removed in a timely fashion, that soft, sticky stuff can harden into tartar, which our dentist also refers to as calculus. Tartar not only makes it more difficult to clean your teeth, but can also reach way down below the gum line, putting you at risk for periodontal disease. Periodontal disease can lead to gum erosion and loose teeth.
Plaque can be scrubbed from your teeth by a good oral hygiene routine that includes brushing your teeth at least twice a day, flossing daily, and cutting down or eliminating sugary foods and drinks. Tartar can only be banished by your dentist.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that the damaging effects of plaque and tartar are completely preventable, as long as you follow the simple steps outlined above, and have regular checkups and cleanings by our dentist at Lodi Family Dentistry. Please don’t hesitate to contact our office today for an appointment.