Tartar, also known as calculus, is really only a hardened form of dental plaque. Plaque is a sticky, colorless film that forms between your teeth and on the surface of them. It starts to build up on your teeth just 20 minutes after eating and if it’s not removed right away, it will harden into tartar which will be rock hard after 12 days.
Tartar, hardened plaque, is not something you want to have as it can make your teeth look ugly, feel ugly and smell ugly. It all starts after eating any kind of meal or snack which is when the bacteria in plaque will release acids that attack the enamel on your teeth. And on top of all that, tartar and plaque can lead to the following problems:
- Gingivitis (swollen, inflamed and bleeding gums)
- Periodontitis (bone destruction which can lead to tooth loss)
- Bad breath
- Inability to use your teeth
- Other health problems outside your mouth, from to heart disease
Once you have tartar on your teeth, there is no other way to deal with it but to see your dentist right away, before it really starts to do some irreversible damage. Tartar and plaque can lead to major tooth problems like gum disease and bone loss but your dentist has ways to remove the tartar once it builds up. These two methods, scaling and/or root planing, are non-surgical and done right in your dentist’s office.
To maintain your healthy teeth and avoid plaque and tartar, it is important to have regular teeth cleaning done by your dentist or dental hygienist as the plaque can collect in areas that are very hard for you to reach with brushing. This routine cleaning may involve dental x-rays if your dentist feels this is necessary. And dental sealants can be used to help protect your teeth from decay by sealing over any pits, cracks or grooves in your teeth.
The best cure is always prevention and you can help to prevent plaque and tartar by seeing your dentist regularly and by finding out how to brush and floss your teeth properly. It is also very important to have a well balanced diet to maintain your healthy teeth and gums as healthy teeth are clean and have few cavities and healthy gums are pink and firm.
To help you prevent plaque and tartar, the steps to follow are listed below:
- Brush your teeth at least twice daily
- If possible, brush after every meal, snack and at bedtime
- Floss at least twice a day
- Have routine cleaning and examinations
- Have your teeth professionally cleaned every 6 months
- Keep dentures, retainers and other appliances clean
Be sure to talk to your dentist or hygienist to learn the proper way to brush and floss but, for now, follow the above steps and listed below are some general recommendations for preventing and/or removing plaque or tartar from your teeth:
- Be sure your toothbrush has soft, rounded bristles
- Your toothbrush should not be too large for your mouth
- You should be able to reach every surface of your mouth easily
- Toothpaste should contain fluoride
- When flossing, do it gently as intense flossing can injure your gums
- Find out if you need any special appliances or tools, such as water irrigation or electric toothbrushes along with your regular brushing and flossing
- Find out if you need any special toothpaste or mouth rinse as some over-the-counter ones may do more harm than good, depending on your condition
In between dental visits, below are some additional ways to prevent plaque or tartar buildup:
- Avoid snacks that are starchy or sugary
- Do not use tobacco products
- Limit your snacks
- Use a proper cleaner to clean between your teeth
For more information on how to protect your teeth from plaque and tartar, or book an appointment for cleaning call us at: 1-877-283-0497.