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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.

But more than that, healthy pearly whites also determine your overall oral health.

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.

Disclaimer: The oral health information published on this web page is solely intended for educational purposes. Hawaii Family Dental strongly recommends to always consult licensed dentists or other qualified health care professionals for any questions concerning your oral health.

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