Tartar vs Plaque
Tartar is different from plaque.
Plaque is soft and sticky and if you took your fingernail (which I wouldn’t recommend doing) and scraped your tooth, it’s that white sticky stuff that you would see.
Tartar is actually when plaque mineralizes and hardens to the tooth. It likes to stick right around the gum line and contribute to gum disease (periodontal disease is another word for that)
So your hygienist will remove the tartar by either using a cavitron (which sprays water and vibrates and kind of knocks those tartar particles off the tooth) or they will use what’s called a scalar (which most people think of typically as what scrapes your tooth when you have a cleaning).
By removing the tartar from the tooth, you’re removing all of that bacterial build-up and lessening the chance of gingivitis, periodontal disease, etcetera.