Hi. I’m Dr. Lynn R. Blaisdell. I find that many of my patients in the Nampa, Meridian, and Sun Valley areas get a couple of dental terms mixed up. Today, I would like to clarify the differences between plaque, calculus, and cavities.
Plaque is a film that covers teeth – a sticky layer of bacteria. You can remove plaque through daily brushing and flossing. However, if it isn’t removed it can build up and harden into calculus.
Calculus, also known as tartar, is hardened plaque that also accumulates minerals from food and saliva. Regular check-ups and cleanings with your Boise dentist are necessary to remove tartar as well as hard-to-reach plaque.
Plaque and calculus are not cavities, but they can lead to cavities. A cavity is basically a hole in the tooth caused by decay. Because plaque and calculus contain bacteria, the bacteria release acids which accelerate tooth decay and eventually lead to more cavities.
A good rule of thumb for patients is this: Avoid plaque to avoid calculus and tartar to avoid tooth decay to avoid cavities. Got it?
I hope you’ve found this helpful, and if you’re in the Nampa, Meridian, or Sun Valley area and are in need of quality dental care, call our office at 208-377-9696 to schedule an appointment today.
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