- Tartar is the hardened product of longstanding plaque accumulating minerals from the saliva and foods. Plaque is the soft accumulation of food debris and bacteria around teeth. These bacteria feed on left over food in the mouth to excrete toxins that irritate the gums and dissolve the bone. Plaque can be removed by proper brushing and flossing at home. Tartar can become as hard as a rock and then can require a dentist or dental hygienist with special tools to remove it. Dental plaque and tartar cause inflammation of the bone surrounding the teeth referred to as "periodontia."
* * *1. A crust on the interior of wine casks, consisting essentially of potassium bitartrate. 2. A white, brown, or yellow-brown deposit at or below the gingival margin of teeth, chiefly hydroxyapatite in an organic matrix. SYN: dental calculus (2). [Mediev. L. tartarum, ult. etym. unknown]
* * *tar·tar 'tärt-ər n an incrustation on the teeth consisting of plaque that has become hardened by the deposition of mineral salts (as calcium carbonate)
* * *n.
* * *tar·tar (tahrґtər) [L. tartarum; Gr. tartaron] 1. dental calculus. 2. crude potassium bitartrate.
Medical dictionary. 2011.
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