What is Tartar
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What is Tartar?

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You probably know that plaque and tartar are bad for your oral health, but what else do you know about the sticky coating that can cover your teeth each day? It’s normal for plaque bacteria to coat your teeth throughout the day, however, problems can occur when the plaque builds up, hardens and turns to tartar. Tartar is made up from sticky bacteria that has mineralised and is sometimes also called calculus. Plaque bacteria can be easily removed with brushing and flossing, however, any hardened tartar will need to be removed by a dentist. If left, it can quickly lead to other oral problems including cavities, receding gums or gum disease. Read on to find out more about plaque and tartar, the foods that can cause it to form quicker and how to remove plaque from teeth to keep your smile healthy! [kw1]

How Does Tartar Affect Teeth and Gums?

A buildup of tartar or plaque bacteria can lead to cavities and tooth decay – so, the quicker you get rid of it, the less chances you have of developing dental problems in the future! The bacteria in tartar can damage or irritate your gums and lead to gingivitis or gum disease – where your gums are inflamed, swollen and bleed easily.

Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease and is easily reversed with a good oral hygiene routine and regular dental care. However, if you let gingivitis progress into periodontitis, it can cause much more serious complications, other health conditions and even affect the bones that hold your teeth in place. [kw2]

How Do I Know if I Have Plaque or Tartar Build-up?

Plaque is the colourless film of bacteria that builds up on your teeth each day, whereas tartar occurs when the plaque is left to build up over time and hardens onto your teeth. The most common sign of tartar buildup is a yellow or brown colour around the edges of your teeth and along the gumline. Plaque can be easily removed each time you brush your teeth and floss, however, the only way for sure to detect tartar and remove it, is to see your dentist. [kw3]

Foods That Cause Tartar Formation

Once you’re aware of the kind of foods that quickly cause a build-up of plaque bacteria that can lead to tartar, you’ll be able to avoid them or take extra care when brushing your teeth after eating them! Some of these foods are obvious culprits, and some you may not expect: 

  • Sour sweets
  • Chocolate, cakes with icing, ice cream
  • Bread
  • Alcohol
  • Fizzy drinks
  • Ice
  • Citrus fruits or drinks
  • Crisps
  • Dried fruit [kw4]

How Can I Prevent Tartar Buildup?

Now you know more about what causes tartar, it’s also helpful to understand how to prevent and remove it. A great dental care routine using a fluoride toothpaste and floss is necessary for plaque removal. This, combined with regular hygiene visits to your dentist will help to keep your teeth clean and healthy. However, once tartar has formed, only a dentist can remove it by using the process for tartar removal, known as scaling. During scaling, your dentist will use special instruments to remove the tartar from your teeth, both above and below the gumline.

How to Remove Plaque from Teeth Without a Dentist

Many people wonder how to get rid of plaque or how to remove tartar from teeth, and unfortunately, it’s not possible to get rid of the latter alone. The only way to remove tartar from your teeth is by visiting your dentist, as it must be removed with special tools.

Luckily, plaque can easily be removed at home without a visit to the dentist! So, by keeping on top of your oral hygiene routine, you should be able to avoid the buildup of the plaque bacteria that causes the harmful tartar. Here are some simple tips you can use to keep your mouth clean and plaque-free:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day for 2 minutes at a time, using a soft-bristled brush.
  • If possible, use an electric toothbrush as they can be more effective at removing plaque from hard-to-reach areas than a manual toothbrush.
  • Use a toothpaste that contains fluoride, for example, Colgate Total Plaque Protection Toothpaste.
  • Take care to clean the spaces between your teeth using dental floss, interdental brushes or a water flosser.
  • Rinse your mouth daily with a fluoride mouthwash to keep your mouth clean and your breath fresh.
  • Cut back on sugary snacks and the foods and drink that will quickly cause plaque bacteria to build up on or between the surfaces of your teeth. Brush your teeth and drink plenty of water between meals.
  • If possible, avoid smoking and other tobacco products as the nicotine and tar can cause a buildup of plaque and tartar. [kw5]

[kw1] https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/25102-tartar

[kw2 ]https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/tartar-dental-calculus-overview

[kw3] https://www.putneydentalcare.com.au/blog/plaque-vs-tartar/#:~:text=Plaque%20is%20a%20slimy%20film,if%20it's%20not%20removed%20quickly

[kw4] https://www.healthline.com/health/dental-and-oral-health/worst-foods-for-your-teeth#dried-fruits

[kw5] https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/tartar-dental-calculus-overview


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This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.