Can You Remove Tartar at Home?

500px Photo ID: 117525853

Plaque is a sticky substance that builds up on the teeth. If it's not removed through brushing and flossing, it hardens. This hardened plaque is known as tartar or dental calculus. Tartar can have negative effects on your oral health, so it shouldn't be allowed to build up. No matter what you may hear or read, it's not a good idea to remove tartar at home.

How Tartar Affects Oral Health

When tartar is allowed to build up on the teeth and along the gumline, serious oral health conditions can develop. Tartar provides a stickier and rough surface for plaque to adhere to. Since plaque can lead to conditions like gum disease and cavities, this is a serious concern.

Tartar can also pose cosmetic problems. Since tartar is porous, it can easily absorb stains. When you drink highly pigmented beverages, like tea or coffee, your tartar can darken.

DIY Ways to Remove Tartar at Home

Once plaque hardens into tartar, it can't be removed with a toothbrush. People who are concerned about tartar may be tempted by DIY tartar-removal products, like dental tool kits. "Natural" remedies, such as strawberries, vinegar or sesame seeds, are also sometimes suggested. While these ingredients and products are readily available, it's not a good idea to use them. That's because it takes a lot of education and training to safely remove tartar. Dental hygienists have to attend college, and typically study for a minimum of two years and most dental hygiene programs also offer bachelor and master degrees as well, explains the American Dental Association (ADA). Education aside, a person probing sharp or inappropriate tools into their own mouth can easily damage their teeth or gums.

Tartar can be safely removed at your dentist's office. The dental hygienist or dentist will use manual scaling tools or an ultrasonic device to remove it from your teeth and at and below the gumline. If cost is a concern, there are many options for affordable dentistry, such as dental schools. At dental schools, supervised students provide low-cost care to gain clinical experience.

Ways to Prevent Tartar Buildup

While you can't safely remove tartar at home, you can take steps to prevent it from building up in the first place. With a good oral hygiene routine, plaque can be removed before it has a chance to harden. Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Since your toothbrush can't reach all your tooth and gum surfaces, remember to floss once a day, too. If you have trouble using traditional floss, talk to your dental hygienist about alternative tools, like interdental brushes.

Even if you have excellent brushing and flossing habits, you still need to see your dentist regularly for checkups. At these appointments, any plaque you missed with your toothbrush and floss can be removed.

Tartar can contribute to serious oral health conditions, and there's no safe way to remove it at home. See your dentist regularly to have your tartar professionally and safely removed by your dental hygienist.

More Articles You May Like

How Is Tobacco a THREAT TO ORAL HEALTH?

Tobacco's greatest threat to your health may be its association with oral cancer. The American Cancer Society reports that:

  • About 90 percent of people with mouth cancer and some types of throat cancer have used tobacco. The risk of developing these cancers increases as people smoke or chew more often or for a longer time.

  • Smokers are six times more likely than nonsmokers to develop these cancers.

  • About 37 percent of patients who continue to smoke after cancer treatment will develop second cancers of the mouth, throat or larynx. While only 6 percent of people who quit smoking will develop these secondary cancers.

  • Smokeless tobacco has been linked to cancers of the cheek, gums and inner surface of the lips. Smokeless tobacco increases the risk of these cancers by nearly 50 times.7