Colgate Colgate Oral and Dental Health Resource Center

Innovative toothpastes to clean and brighten every type of smile.

Toothpastes

A toothbrush for every type of smile, designed with comfort and results in mind.

Toothbrushes

Colgate kids' products make brushing fun and encourage routine use.

Kids' Products

Oral care products available exclusively through dental professionals.

Products From the Dentist

Professional grade oral care, available without a prescription.

Other Oral Care

Every smile is unique and requires a different type of care. Colgate has a solution for every smile.

Search by Benefit
Font size

What is Tartar?

What is Tartar?
Tartar, sometimes called calculus, is plaque that has hardened on your teeth. Tartar can also form at and underneath the gumline and can irritate gum tissues. Tartar gives plaque more surface area on which to grow and a much stickier surface to adhere, which can lead to more serious conditions, such as cavities and gum disease.

Not only can tartar threaten the health of your teeth and gums, it is also a cosmetic problem. Because tartar is more porous, it absorbs stains easily. So if you are a coffee or tea drinker, or if you smoke, it is especially important to prevent tartar buildup.

How do I Know if I Have Tartar Buildup?
Unlike plaque, which is a colorless film of bacteria, tartar is a mineral buildup that's fairly easy to see if above the gumline. The most common sign of tartar is a yellow or brown color to teeth or gums. The only way for sure to detect tartar — and to remove it — is to see your dentist.

How can I Prevent Tartar Buildup?
Proper brushing, especially with a tartar control toothpaste, and flossing are necessary to reduce plaque and tartar buildup.

Once tartar has formed, only your dentist or hygienist can remove it. The process for removing tartar is called scaling. During a scaling, the dentist or hygienist uses special instruments to remove tartar from your teeth above and below the gumline.

TarterTeeth Scaling

Tartar threatens good oral health and makes your smile noticeably less attractive.

Once tartar forms, only a professional cleaning can remove it.

Related Videos

How to Brush

How to Brush

Learn the technique recommended for the best cleaning.
Brushing Routine

Brushing Routine

Do you get cavities in the same spots time and again? This tip could serve as an extra preventative measure.
How to Floss

How to Floss

Find simple instructions for effective flossing.
Abrasive Brushing

Abrasive Brushing

Is your brushing style damaging your enamel? A few simple tweaks to your technique could make a difference!

Related Guides

Guide to Brushing

Guide to Brushing

Test your brushing skills with our FUN 3-D brusher.
Gum Disease Quiz

Gum Disease Quiz

How much do you really know about gum disease? Take our quiz and see.
Fresh Breath Assessment

Fresh Breath Assessment

How fresh is your breath? Find out by visiting the Fresh Breath Institute.
ColgatePalmolive.com  |  Colgate.com  |  Legal/Privacy  |  Colgate.com Site Map  |  Contact Us
© Colgate-Palmolive Company. All rights reserved.
You are viewing the United States site.