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What Is Tartar?

A pretty smile and white teeth give you the confidence you need for your day-to-day activities. However, even if you use the best toothbrush, the most recommended toothpaste, and brush and floss three times a day, you might still suffer from plaque. In turn, this can result in tartar buildup, even just from a few hours of bacterial buildup.

Eventually, tartar could lead to a more serious problem such as tooth loss.

But what is Tartar?

Medically, tartar is known as calculus. It is a condition where dental plaque hardens due to the mineral accumulation from the plaque on your teeth.

Plaque is rough on the surface of your teeth and contributes to tartar formation. Although plaque can be removed with good oral hygiene, once it hardens, it is strongly attached to the teeth. Only a visit to your dentist can remove the tartar safely and accurately.

What can tartar do to me?

According to CDC, around 90% of adults over 40 experience tooth decay. This is not due purely to bad oral hygiene but because of neglecting plaque and tartar formation on the teeth.

Once tartar is formed, you cannot effectively brush and floss your teeth. This gives the bacteria an opportunity to release acid and contribute to tooth decay. Normally tartar leads to gum diseases like gingivitis.

Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease and is highly treatable. However, if left untreated, will lead to a more advanced gum problem.

A more advanced gum problem is periodontitis. In this case, both your gums and teeth have a bacterial infection. The greater the infection, the harder it is to treat.

Although the body naturally secretes chemicals to avoid further infection, the substances released by the bacteria can be harmful to the tissues and bones of your mouth. If left untreated, the worst case scenario includes losing your teeth.

How can I avoid tartar?

You can avoid tartar formation in many ways, including:

  • Using toothpaste with fluoride. Fluoride helps prevent the formation of tartar in your teeth. It also helps to repair the enamel that is washed away when tartar is formed. Special toothpaste may also include triclosan which is an antibacterial formula to fight off bacteria buildup.
  • Avoiding smoking is also a good way to avoid tartar formation. The nicotine from tobacco and cigarette products stain your mouth and contribute to tartar buildup.
  • Eating healthy contributes to a healthy mouth. Bacteria thrive in starchy and sugary foods. Consuming cake, pastries, candies, sodas and other items high in sugar are a high risk for bacteria buildup. Make sure to brush your teeth after every meal and gargle with antibacterial mouthwash to cleanse your palette and mouth. Drinking lots of water can also help flush the bacteria from your mouth.
  • Regular brushing and flossing. Brushing alone cannot remove the bacteria completely. Remember that plaque can grow in between teeth. Thus, these are the areas that cannot be reached by brushing alone. Don’t forget to floss to get within crevices between your teeth.

Whether you brush your teeth or get a dental cleaning for dental plaque, they're nonetheless great ways to get rid of tartar buildup. Find out why.

4 Ways To Get Rid of Tartar Buildup

We all know dental plaque is terrible news for your teeth because it causes tooth decay and gum disease. Fortunately, it’s something you can prevent. Just brush your teeth twice a day so you prevent oral bacteria from building up in the first place. Flossing before cleaning, in particular, helps remove plaque from those hard-to-reach places. When plaque stays on your teeth a little too long, it can harden into tartar, particularly below the gum line. And this form is difficult to remove on your own. What, then, are the ways to get rid of tartar buildup?

It’s essential to know how it happens in the first place. While we do know that tartar is hardened dental plaque, the whole process isn’t as simple as it seems. That bacterial biofilm mixes in with the minerals from your saliva to turn into tartar. When bonded, these minerals are what harden the plaque and make them cling to the tooth enamel. At this point, you need to get a dental cleaning at your nearest dental office to get rid of it.  

When it’s a little too late to get rid of your dental plaque problem, what are the ways to get rid of tartar buildup? Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Start fresh with a dental cleaning

    Unfortunately, getting a professional dental cleaning is the only way to get rid of tartar buildup. Most at-home remedies on the internet—including baking soda and orange peel—focus on prevention rather than getting rid of the actual problem. Unless you’re licensed to do so, it’s always best to head to your nearest dental office. 

    Because tartar buildup is usually found near or underneath the gum line, your dentist might do a root scaling and planing procedure. Don’t let the treatment name scare you, though. Essentially, your dentist scrapes or “scales” off the tartar on the area. And if your tartar gives you exposed tooth roots, your dentist will plane or smooth them out to help them reattach to your gums.    

  2. Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste

    After a dental cleaning, more ways to get rid of tartar buildup begin to open. At this point, the shift goes from how to fight tartar to preventing tartar from happening in the first place. And it starts when you brush your teeth. You want to make sure you stop tartar in its tracks before it forms, so while it’s still plaque, you want to prevent it from building up. Using a fluoride toothpaste is a bonus since fluoride prevents your tooth enamel from losing their mineral content.  

  3. Go extra with the oral health products

    Sure, you don’t need a lot of oral health products to reduce tartar buildup, but it wouldn’t hurt to go ham on them every once in a while. Aside from adding to an already-solid oral hygiene routine, they also make the experience exponentially more pleasant. Whether that’s getting a water pick or using a therapeutic mouthwash, if you’re someone with a previous tartar problem, this can help a lot. 

  4. Watch the food you eat

    They say prevention is the best cure, and it’s a principle that follows all the ways to get rid of tartar buildup. Building your tooth enamel defenses is a particularly crucial step. What you eat makes or breaks your tartar immunity, so make sure you stock up on healthy food for teeth. Or, at least, avoid the ones that aren’t, like acidic foods.

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