Fairfax Medical Center
10721 Main Street, Suite 2200
Fairfax, Virginia 22030
Phone:(703) 352-3900

Plaque and Tartar Control

Patients often confuse plaque and tartar and how they are related to each other.

Plaque is a sticky film that constantly forms on all areas of your teeth; it is composed of bacteria, by-products of bacteria and saliva. However, plaque that builds up along the gumline and between the teeth in hard to reach places can be harmful.

Plaque buildup is a primary factor in gum disease. Fighting plaque is a life-long component of oral care.


Plaque is constantly forming on teeth after brushing which is why it is so important to brush twice a day and floss daily.

Plaque which is not removed by regular brushing and flossing, can harden into unsightly tartar (also called calculus). This crusty deposit creates a cohesive bond that can only be removed by a dentist or hygienist. The prevention of tartar buildup above the gumline has not been shown to have a therapeutic effect on gum disease.

The photographs below show three degrees of tartar, or calculus, formation:


You can help reduce the formation of
tartar by:
•Brushing with a tartar-control
•Having your teeth professionally cleaned
  as frequently as recommended by
  Dr. Ortega.

Individuals vary greatly in their susceptibility to plaque and tartar. For many of us, these deposits build up faster as we age. Fighting tartar is a life-long component of oral care.

Be sure to follow the special home care instructions provided by Dr. Ortega.

Dental Cosmetix
Cosmetic & Comprehensive Dentistry
10721 Main Street, Suite 2200
Fairfax, Virginia 22030
Phone: (703) 352-3900