What Is Tartar and Why Is It a Concern?
Even if you practice the best oral hygiene, there are bacteria in
your mouth. These bacteria, along with proteins and food byproducts, form a
sticky film called dental plaque. This film coats teeth. Plaque is most
prevalent in areas that are hard to clean -- like the back teeth -- just along
the gum line, and around fillings or other dental products.
Plaque can be bad news for teeth. Every time you eat, these
bacteria secrete acids that can damage tooth enamel and lead to cavities. The acids can also cause inflammation and infection to your
gums. But, if you remove plaque regularly with proper hygiene practices, you
can prevent this assault on your teeth from leading to permanent tooth decay.
A bigger problem arises if plaque is allowed to remain on your
teeth and harden. That can happen after just 26 hours. When this occurs, the
plaque hardens into tartar, or dental calculus. Because it has mineralized onto
your teeth, tartar is far more difficult to remove than plaque.
Tips for Controlling Tartar
The best way to prevent the serious effects of tartar on your
teeth is to
prevent tartar from forming. Here's how:
Brush regularly using
the proper technique. A quick, 30-second brushing of teeth morning and night is
not enough to remove dental plaque and prevent tartar build-up. Use a brush
with soft bristles that is small enough to reach all the areas in your mouth.
Be sure to include the hard-to-reach surfaces behind your teeth and on your
Studies have found that
electronic, or powered, toothbrushes may be more effective than manual toothbrushes for plaque
removal. These models have undergone rigorous quality control and safety tests.
Opt for tartar-control toothpaste with fluoride. Toothpastes containing pyrophosphates can help prevent plaque from hardening into tartar. Additionally,
the fluoride in the formula will help repair any damage to your enamel that may
have already occurred. Some formulas also contain triclosan. That's an antibiotic that fights the bacteria in plaque.
Floss, floss, floss. No
matter how diligent you are about brushing your teeth, only flossing daily can
remove the plaque between your teeth and prevent tartar formation in these
Watch your diet. The bacteria in your mouth thrive on sugary
and starchy foods. When they are exposed to those foods, they release damaging
acids. Try to eat a healthy diet and limit the amount of sugar-containing foods
you eat. Be mindful of snacking, too, since every time you eat you are also
feeding the bacteria in your mouth. You don't have to forgo sweets or between
meals munches entirely. Just be mindful about how often you indulge and be diligent
about brushing your teeth. Drinking plenty of water during and after meals may
also help minimize plaque build-up.
Don't smoke. Studies
show that people who smoke cigarettes or use other tobacco products are more
likely to have tartar on their teeth and under their gums.
Once tartar has formed, it is important to realize that only a dental professional will be able to remove it from your teeth. Make
sure to visit your dentist
every six months to remove any plaque
and tartar that might have formed and prevent further complications.
Doctor Me , 2013021519:54:48