Plaque and Tartar: What is the difference?

Are you worried that you aren’t cleaning your teeth well enough in order to remove all the plaque, food particles, and excess bacteria from your mouth during your orthodontic treatment? If you have crooked, crowded, or gapped teeth, making sure you reach every tooth surface, as well as along your gum line may prove to be difficult. Thankfully, our orthodontist in Melbourne, FL can recommend ways to straighten your teeth so that you can properly brush and floss, and keep plaque and tartar at bay during and after your orthodontic treatment.

Plaque and How It Develops

Cavities and gum disease start with plaque. Plaque begins every time you take a bite of food or drink any beverage that isn’t water. It can be various shades of white, yellow, orange and brown.  Sometimes it can be difficult to spot, but if it isn’t removed, it can lead to gum disease and cavities and lead to the need for significant dental treatments.

Whenever you consume food and drinks, the bacteria in your mouth have a chance to multiply. This is because they eat your food also, and they consume the sugar in drinks. This causes the bacteria to excrete waste and increase the acidity in your mouth. The acid that is created by the bacteria can weaken your enamel, and since the plaque formed by the food particles, saliva, and bacteria can be difficult to spot, you may not even know that it’s happening.

The best defense against plaque is regular brushing and flossing. The bristles of your toothbrush remove the plaque film so that you can rinse it from your mouth. When you floss, you are removing the food particles and plaque from your teeth, which reduces your risk of developing tartar, cavities, and gum disease.

Tartar and How It Develops

Tartar is calcified plaque and is sometimes referred to as calculus. When you fail to remove all the plaque from your teeth, within about 24 hours, it hardens into tartar, which collects on the surfaces of your teeth and along the gum line. It usually appears as either yellow or brown stains, and it is extremely difficult to remove at home. In fact, you won’t be able to remove it with your toothbrush or floss alone. Tartar must be scraped from the teeth and along and below the gumline with professional dental tools.

What Happens When You Leave Plaque and Tartar on Your Teeth

If you don’t remove all the plaque and tartar from your teeth, you will start to develop cavities and tooth decay. If the plaque and tartar get near or below your gum line, they can cause gum inflammation and redness, which is the first stage of periodontal disease called gingivitis. If the inflammation and redness isn’t treated, it can turn into full-blown periodontal disease, which is a serious condition that can cause gum tissue and bone loss, as well as cavities in the roots of your teeth and the need for tooth extractions and significant dental treatment from your general dentist and from our orthodontist in Melbourne, Florida.

Get Help from our Melbourne, FL Orthodontist

If your teeth aren’t straight, you may have difficulty reaching every surface of your teeth and brushing along the gumline. This is especially true if you have crowded, overlapping, crooked teeth, or teeth that lean into the surrounding teeth. The good news is that straightening your teeth with Invisalign, clear braces, or conventional metal braces can lead to better oral hygiene.

How Invisible Braces in Melbourne Help with Oral Hygiene

One of the biggest benefit of getting Invisalign in Melbourne is that once your treatment is complete, you’ll have perfectly aligned, straight teeth that you can clean easily. This means that you will have an easier time brushing and flossing your teeth. If you brush for the recommended amount of time, which is two minutes, at least twice a day and floss once every 24-hours, you will remove all the plaque from your teeth before it can harden into tartar and lead to gum disease and cavities. 

To schedule an appointment to see if invisible or metal braces in Melbourne, Florida are right for you, give us a call at 321-254-5232.


We have missed seeing everyone!  We are finally able to go back to work and look forward to seeing all of our patients and their families.  We are in the process of calling everyone who has missed an appointment during our forced office closure to reschedule and get back on track.  We will be working overtime in the coming months to do what we can to help. Unfortunately, our time out of work will delay treatment completion for many and for that we are truly sorry.  Most importantly, we hope this message finds everyone happy and healthy.

The health and safety of our patients, their families, and the community remain our primary focus.  We are taking as many precautions as possible for prevention of spreading COVID-19.  We will remain vigilant with our sterilization and disinfection protocols and we will  be taking additional precautionary measures as well.   If the patient or an immediate family member has been sick in the past two weeks, we ask that you please call us to reschedule the appointment to a later date as a precaution.

To limit the traffic in our building, we will be adjusting to a “parking lot waiting area”.  We will have a staff member come out to each vehicle to greet you and check the patient in.  Please call the office if you are not promptly greeted.  There are some types of appointments that require a parent’s participation, so we ask that anyone accompanying the patient into the office wear a mask or face covering.  We can provide masks if necessary. 

We will only be utilizing half of our operatories to maintain significant distance between patients.  We ask that all of our patients please thoroughly brush their teeth prior to their appointments to limit use of our toothbrushing area.  We have also installed plexiglass barriers between our front desk and the waiting area.  As always, we will continue to be committed to giving each of our patients the best experience possible!

Thank you for your understanding!

The Reddick Orthodontics Team