922 Waltham St #202 Lexington, MA 02421

(781) 861-7645

922 Waltham St #202 Lexington, MA 02421

922 Waltham St #202 Lexington, MA 02421

Lexington Dentists: What is Plaque and Tartar?

Tartar removed during a dental cleaning | Lexington dentists

Lexington Dentists

One of the most common questions that Lexington dentists receive is, are plaque and tartar the same thing? By understanding the differences between the two, you will be better able to prevent them or take the appropriate treatment if they should build up on your teeth. Let’s take a look at plaque and tartar so that you will know how to correct them and preserve your beautiful smile.

Have questions? Contact our Lexington dentists today! Our office accepts new patients.


Plaque is a sticky, colorless substance that can accumulate around your gum line. It develops due to the presence of food debris and oral bacteria that feed on foods, particularly ones that contain sugar. Although you cannot normally see plaque, it can still greatly damage your teeth. The bacteria found in this sticky biofilm produces acids that can lead to cavities, gum disease, or tooth pain.

The good news is that plaque can be easily prevented by sticking to your at-home dental hygiene routine. By keeping your commitment to brushing and flossing daily, plaque should not be a great concern to you.

Tartar removed during a dental cleaning | Lexington dentists


Medically known as dental calculus, tartar is an accumulation of plaque that has not been removed. It appears somewhat differently from plaque. Tartar has a yellowish or brown color and represents plaque that has hardened, making it difficult to remove.

Tartar forms when minerals contained in your saliva react with accumulated plaque on your teeth. Tartar can discolor your teeth, lead to tooth loss, gum disease, and cavities. By daily removing plaque with your oral hygiene routine, you can prevent the formation of tartar completely. However, existing tartar should be examined by Lexington dentists. Existing tartar may be causing additional issues like gum disease.

Gum Disease

If plaque and tartar are not dealt with on a timely basis, they can be extremely destructive to your gums and teeth. Commonly known as gum disease, periodontal disease is a serious infection of the gums surrounding the teeth. An early form of periodontal disease called gingivitis can be treated by your Lexington dentists.

In fact, gum disease is reversible at this point. Left untreated, gum disease can eventually cause your teeth to loosen and fall out. That is why it is so vital to maintain proper oral health habits at home, and don’t neglect your appointments for dental cleanings.

Treating and Preventing Plaque and Tartar

As mentioned earlier, you should be able to keep any accumulation of plaque at bay simply by brushing and flossing your teeth regularly. Preventing plaque means that you will never develop tartar. Restricting your intake of sugary foods and beverages also helps to prevent the accumulation of plaque.

Dental Cleanings

Other than keeping up with your regular oral care routine at home, the best way to prevent plaque and tartar is by visiting your dentist for regular dental cleanings. If plaque has hardened into tartar, it can only be removed by a dental professional. Your dental hygienist can use a dental scaling tool to remove any tartar from your teeth, which should prevent gum disease and other problems if performed early enough.

Schedule Your Appointment

Contact our Lexington dentists today! Our team is highly skilled and educated to assist your individual needs. New patients are always welcome and many insurances are accepted. We look forward to assisting you.


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