Plaque is a soft deposit that builds up on the teeth, dental appliances and dental prostheses. This deposit is made up of microorganisms, which can cause cavities, gum infections and periodontal diseases. If not removed daily, plaque can harden and turn into tartar.
Plaque formation occurs in five stages. Once all the stages are complete, the plaque matures and accumulates bacteria that make it even more damaging to the adjacent tissues to which it easily adheres. Mature plaque can cause damage to the enamel. Eating sugars changes the pH balance of saliva, making it more acidic. This acidity promotes enamel decalcification. Eventually, decalcification turns into tooth decay. If plaque is found in a more alkaline than acidic environment, salivary minerals like phosphorous and calcium adhere to it, resulting in a buildup of tartar.
Tartar is a solid deposit that can form on the teeth or under the gums if plaque is not removed. Tartar is a hotbed of bacteria that make it highly irritating to the gum tissue. Tartar that has not been removed by scaling increases the risk of developing periodontitis. This disease is characterized by the destruction of bone structures that support the teeth, compromising their solidity. It is therefore important to remove plaque every day by brushing and flossing. Also, you should make regular appointments with your dental hygienist, who will remove the tartar and help preserve your smile.
For more information about plaque and tartar, make an appointment with your dental health professional at Lapointe Dental Centres.