Evolve Dental Care

“The staff at Evolve Dental Care are very friendly and welcoming the moment you walk in the door. At my last appointment I arrived 15 minutes early and they got me right in. They have been on schedule since my first appointment there and don't keep you waiting. During my appointment, the staff made friendly conversation.” - Jamie M

What is the difference between dental plaque and calculus?

toothbrush with toothpaste | dentist allentown paYou may have often heard the terms ‘dental plaque’, ‘calculus,’ and ‘tartar’ on TV ads. These terms often appear in health and dental hygiene books.

Do you know what is meant by dental plaque and calculus?

In the paragraphs below, we will explain what is meant by dental plaque and calculus. First, your dentist in Allentown will talk about each one of them and then talk about their differences.

Dental Plaque

Dental plaque is the soft, sticky layer of food debris that accumulates on our teeth immediately after eating or drinking. The formation of plaque is virtually a continuous process. It starts forming the moment you finish cleaning your teeth.

Brushing twice a day and flossing regularly removes most of the plaque. If we are not regular and thorough in our oral hygiene, the plaque layer will thicken. The layer normally turns yellow if allowed to accumulate and gives a very unseemly sight.

Dental plaque is the source of most dental and periodontal problems. Disease-causing bacteria thrive in the plaque and convert food remnants adhering to the teeth into acid.

This acid weakens the protective action of the saliva and permits erosion of the enamel on your teeth. Continued erosion leads to cavities, pain, and other dental problems, which may ultimately lead to teeth loss.

Bacteria in the plaque can also generate toxins that cause early stages of gum disease, starting with inflammation of the gums. Untreated gum disease will ultimately lead to advanced gum disease, bone loss, and even loss of teeth.

It is possible that despite all your personal efforts, you are unable to clean the plaque from your teeth thoroughly. Plaque can remain like spots on the surface of your teeth or in between the teeth where it is difficult for the brush or floss to clean effectively. It can also lodge along the gumline. Complete cleaning of plaque is possible through regular dental exams and cleaning every six months.

Dental Calculus

If plaque is not cleaned and is allowed to accumulate over the teeth, it hardens over time and becomes calculus or tartar. Calculus also provides a safe breeding ground for harmful bacteria, which promotes gum and periodontal disease.

This marks the initial stages of a periodontal disease which involves swelling of the gums and detachment of fibers that attach the gums to the jaw bone. Calculus starts forming in the space between teeth and the gums, which will deepen as the calculus formation increases.

Bacteria thrive there, aggravating the gum disease to the stages called periodontitis and advanced periodontitis. The immune system of the body reacts and, in the ensuing battle, also attacks the gum flesh and the jaw bone.

The result of untreated advanced periodontal disease is loosening and, ultimately, loss of teeth.

Learn Differences Between Calculus and Plaque

Plaque is relatively fresh and soft and can be mostly cleaned with routine brushing. Calculus is the harder form of plaque. Calculus at the gum line can be removed by regular cleanings at a dentist's office in Allentown, PA.

If calculus is present on the root surfaces, it can only be cleaned by a dental procedure called deep cleaning or scaling and root planing. Deep cleaning involves the removal of calculus from the teeth using ultrasonic scalers and periodontal curettes.

The tip of ultrasonic scalers vibrates at very high frequencies, which helps in plaque and calculus removal. Are you curious about dental topics? Reach out to our dental office in Allentown to ask any further questions you may have!

If you have difficulty using our website, please email us or call us at (610) 797-8245
View the ADA Accessibility Statement