Hi. I’m Dr. Brett Felton. Welcome to my Missoula dental blog! I find that many of my patients in the Missoula, Lolo, and Frenchtown 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 Missoula dentist are necessary to remove tartar as well as hard-to-reach plaque. This is important to avoid gum disease.
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 Lolo dental 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 Missoula, Lolo, or Frenchtown area and are in need of quality dental care, call our office at (406) 728-0896 to schedule an appointment today.
Our friendly staff would love to answer any questions you have about our services, including cosmetic dentistry, teeth whitening, and veneers.
Dr. Brett Felton
Felton Dental Care
1750 Brooks St, Missoula, MT