What Is the Difference Between Plaque and Tartar?
Tartar, also called dental calculus, is hardened plaque.
Your saliva contains minerals like calcium. Under the right conditions (not acidic), your teeth can absorb these minerals to replace those lost to acids that pass through your mouth. The acids include those secreted by bacteria but also acids from drinks like soda, wine, and fruit juice. It’s a kind of self-repair mechanism. It’s very slow, but if conditions in your mouth are right most of the time, it can keep your teeth healthy and strong for life.
However, if you don’t clean plaque off quickly, it absorbs the minerals from your saliva and hardens into tartar. This is, essentially, fossilized plaque. (A side effect of this is that tartar preserves vital information about the diets of earlier generations.)
Once plaque becomes tartar, you can’t really remove it at home. It takes a professional dental cleaning at a Wichita Falls Dental office to remove the hardened form.