You’ve probably heard about plaque and tartar—maybe in a commercial or another advertisement for toothpaste or a mouth rinse. But do you really know what they are and how they can affect your oral health? Although plaque and tartar are related, they are not the same and, therefore, require different dental treatments. Your Framingham dentist, Dr. Fried, wants you to know the difference between these two oral maladies and how to prevent and treat them.
Day in and day out, plaque develops in your mouth. It’s that sticky, colorless film that tends to accumulate along your gum line. Made of saliva and food particles, plaque is filled with bacteria that can harm your teeth and gums. On your teeth, plaque can lead to cavities; the bacteria in plaque produce acids that can attack tooth enamel. If not cleaned away, the acids break through the enamel and a cavity forms.
Likewise, plaque irritates your gum tissue, causing swelling, redness and gum bleeding. At this point, the condition is called gingivitis. If left untreated, gum disease advances to become periodontitis, which is marked by gum tissue that pulls away from your teeth and may ultimately lead to tooth loss.
Fortunately, brushing your teeth at least twice every day and flossing once a day can routinely remove plaque. And when you come to your Framingham family dentist for a checkup, we’ll also make sure to clean away any visible plaque.
If plaque is not brushed away, then it becomes tartar. Often yellow or slightly brown in color, tartar is a hard and porous substance. It’s hard because of the mineral deposits in saliva. The bacteria in tartar multiply and are trapped against teeth and gums. Just like plaque, it also can cause tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss.
Tartar can only be removed by professional cleaning with your Framingham general dentist. We use a two-pronged treatment called root scaling and planing. During scaling, one of our skilled hygienists will use special instruments to remove tartar. Then, root planing allows us to smooth rough spots on your teeth, so plaque and tartar are less likely to cling. For serious cases, periodontal surgery may be necessary.
Call Your Framingham Dentist Today
As you can see, regular brushing and flossing combined with professional cleanings are your best defense against the problems that can result from plaque and tartar. Contact the office of Dr. Mark Fried to schedule a checkup. We gladly serve patients from Framingham, MA, and the surrounding areas of Ashland, Natick, and Southborough.