Dentist in Reno, NV Explains the Difference Between Plaque vs. Tartar - Atencio Dentistry

A question Dr. Michael Atencio, our dentist in Reno, NV hears frequently is, “What’s the difference between plaque and tartar?” These common dental issues are often thought to be interchangeable, but it’s important to know the difference and the best prevention techniques for both. Plaque and tartar buildup is the result of bacteria in your mouth and, if left untreated, the buildup can lead to serious oral health problems. Keep reading to learn ways to inhibit the growth of both plaque and tartar.

What Is Plaque?

If plaque and tartar aren’t the same, then what’s the difference? Our dental professional wants you to know that, although plaque is inevitable, it’s the main cause of cavities and gum disease, and should be taken seriously. Plaque is a layer of bacteria and sugars that persistently forms on your teeth. Your mouth is always forming bacteria, so it’s also always forming plaque. Plaque is sticky, colorless, and can harden into tartar if not removed daily. It can also lead to gum disease, gingivitis, and tooth loss.

What Is Tartar?

Tartar is plaque that has accumulated on your teeth and is usually visible around the gum line. Tartar buildup can turn your teeth yellow or brown in color and, once hardened on your teeth, it makes flossing and brushing your teeth difficult. In this way, tartar acts as a catalyst for bacteria and plaque to grow throughout your mouth. If not removed, the buildup of tartar can cause cavities, gum disease, and tooth decay.

Controlling Plaque & Tartar

So, how can you prevent plaque and tartar buildup? Here a few helpful steps to follow:

  • Brush your teeth regularly, at least twice daily
  • Floss daily to remove plaque from between your teeth and under your gum line,

where your toothbrush may not reach

  • Limit your intake of highly acidic or sugary foods and drinks
  • Schedule professional cleanings and dental examinations twice every year

Unfortunately, once tartar has formed, a dental professional is needed to remove it. That’s why it’s important to practice good prevention techniques and see our dentist for cleanings every six months. Following this advice will help you to keep plaque and tartar under control!


Trust Your Oral Health to Our Dentist in Reno, NV 


For more oral health tips from our dentist or to schedule a dental cleaning, contact our friendly office at 775-298-6108. Our experienced team is always ready to help you achieve your best smile!

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Your 5-Star-Rated & New Favorite Dentist in Northern Nevada

Been to my fair share of dentists all along the east coast. Dr Atencio is top shelf and his staff are fabulous. All professional and know what they are doing. Great friendly personalities . Christina is a master dealing with insurance companies. We highly recommend Atencio Dentistry.

- Warren B. warren b 5 star review

I was nervous to see a new doctor especially since I didn’t have the best experience at my last place but was surprised Everyone was very friendly and efficient. I felt comfortable and well taken care of. They took the time to explain what they were going to do and not get you in and rush you out. Very nice.

- Abilene R. abilene r 5 star review

I've been going to Dr. Atencio's office for several years and they've always done a great job. I'm so thankful for the care and advise I get from Mike, Laurie, and team. The staff are phenomenal. I can't say enough great things about them!

- J. Parel j parel 5 star review

So grateful to the Doctor and his staff fitting me in with dental emergency, especially a new patient. Staff competent, friendly, and efficient. Recommend highly.

- Kathleen A. kathleen a 5 star review

Very warm and genuine staff; very impressed!! Mike Atencio will definitely make you feel welcomed and at home. High level of professionalism and warmth!

- Julius W. julius w 5 star review

*The reviews listed are from actual patients of Atencio Dentistry. Individual results may vary. Reviews are not claimed to represent results for everyone.

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Our Reno, NV
Dental Office
3773 Baker Lane, Suite #3
Reno, NV 89509

775-829-8684

Office Hours:
Mon - Fri: 8AM - 4PM

atencio dentistry in reno nv
atencio dentistry logo

Our Reno, NV
Dental Office
3773 Baker Lane, Suite #3
Reno, NV 89509

775-829-8684

Office Hours:
Mon - Fri: 8AM - 4PM

dentistry office in reno nv