When it comes to practicing good oral hygiene, you constantly hear how important it is to prevent tartar buildup by brushing and flossing. However, you might not completely understand what tartar is, how it gets on your teeth, and the damage it can cause. Understanding what tartar is and how to prevent it helps you improve the health of your mouth and body.
Even with the best oral health care practices, there are always bacteria in your mouth, and when it mixes with food byproducts and proteins, it forms the sticky film known as dental plaque. Plaque coats teeth surface sticks to fillings and dental work and find its way beneath the gum line. Plaque can lead to cavities, damage tooth enamel, and result in infected or inflamed gums if not removed regularly. It only takes a little over a day for plaque to harden into tartar, and once that happens, only a dental professional can completely remove it.
Effect of tartar on mouth health
A buildup of tartar makes it challenging to floss and brush properly, which can lead to tooth decay and cavities. Tartar above the gum line can damage and irritate your gums and eventually lead to gum disease if not removed. Gingivitis is the mildest form of gum disease, but it’s reversible with brushing, flossing, and regular dental cleanings. Left untreated, gingivitis leads to pockets between teeth and gums are prone to infection from bacteria. At this stage, it’s called periodontitis and can damage tissues and bone that hold your teeth securely in place. The bacteria of gum disease can even lead to bigger health problems such as heart disease.
How to control tartar
The best way to prevent the damage tartar causes is to keep it from forming on your teeth. This is easy to accomplish when you follow a few useful tips.
- Brush regularly and thoroughly – You know to brush twice a day, but did you know that you need to brush for at least 2 minutes to remove plaque correctly? A quick half-minute brushing twice a day isn’t enough to prevent tartar, so take the time to do it right, but don’t brush too hard because this can damage gums. Make sure you brush the hard-to-reach areas, including rear molars and surfaces behind your teeth.
- Use the right toothbrush – Some studies show that powered toothbrushes may eliminate more plaque than manual toothbrushes. However, if you’re more comfortable using a manual toothbrush, that’s fine as long as you use one with the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval, because of its passed safety and quality tests. Use a brush with soft bristles to prevent injuring your gums and wearing away enamel.
- Use tartar control toothpaste – Tartar control toothpaste helps prevent plaque from hardening into tartar, and when it contains fluoride it helps repair damage to teeth enamel.
- Floss regularly – Brushing isn’t enough to clean your teeth and gums thoroughly. Flossing is the only way to remove plaque that forms between your teeth and to prevent plaque buildup in areas of your mouth that are difficult to reach.
- Eat a healthy diet – The bacteria in your mouth that leads to plaque thrives on starch and sugar-filled foods, and release harmful acids when exposed to them. Eat a healthy diet for your overall health and your oral health by limiting sugary food intake during meals and snacks. After meals, drink ample water and brush to remove plaque and food debris.
- Avoid tobacco use – Smoking and using other tobacco products leads to tartar buildup and other oral and overall health issues, so it’s advisable to quit.
Schedule your regular cleaning with our office at least every six months to remove plaque and any tartar formations on your teeth. Proper dental cleanings are the only way to remove tartar from your teeth and to prevent future oral health problems.