Who doesn't wish that at-home care were enough for a perfectly white smile? Unfortunately, for common issues like plaque build-up, your daily oral health routine is only part of the equation. Let's dive into what plaque and tartar are, what role you can play in preventing their build-up, and why having a dental professional remove them is the safest and smartest option.
Can You Remove Tartar At Home?
Plaque, a sticky substance made up of germs and sugars, can harden and turn into tartar, also known as dental calculus. Tartar can negatively affect your oral health, so it's essential to keep it at bay.
Can You Remove Tartar At Home?
While you may be wondering how to remove tartar from your teeth without a dentist, it is best to seek help from a dental professional for a clean and accurate job! Once plaque hardens into tartar, a toothbrush can't remove it. You may be tempted by "do-it-yourself" tartar-removal products, like dental tool kits or "natural" remedies, such as strawberries, vinegar, or sesame seeds. While these ingredients and products are readily available at any local grocery or pharmacy, we recommend speaking with your dentist about removing tartar rather than attempting at-home methods.
How Tartar Affects Oral Health
When tartar builds up on the teeth, and along the gumline, oral health conditions can develop. Tartar provides a porous area on your teeth for plaque to adhere to. As it builds up, a cycle of plaque sticking to tartar, which creates more tartar, begins. Since plaque can lead to gum problems and cavities, it's best to prevent this cycle of plaque-to-tartar from occurring. When tartar builds up around the gumlines, it can cause gum inflammation and tenderness. This is the first stage of potentially more severe gum problems. Tartar can also pose cosmetic problems. Since tartar is absorbent, it can quickly soak in stains. This means that drinking pigmented beverages, like tea or coffee, can darken your teeth and create a yellowish smile. Nobody wants to worry about the look of their teeth while enjoying their favourite drink!
Signs of Tartar Build-up
When trying to determine if you have tartar build-up, you will most likely notice it by how your teeth feel. Tartar feels like a rough substance in the mouth that brushing alone will not remove. When tartar appears below the gumline, it can cause raised swellings that may feel tender and sensitive. Build-up above the gumline is yellow or tan, and grows larger if not removed. Below the gumline, it can be brown or black.
Ways to Prevent Tartar Build-up
Like many dental issues, the solution usually lies in prevention! Rather than get to the stage of tartar build-up having to be professionally removed, you can take steps to prevent it from building up in the first place. While you can't safely remove tartar at home, an excellent oral hygiene routine can help you to remove plaque. Follow these steps:
- 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 (also known as interdental cleaning) once a day, too. If you have trouble using traditional floss, talk to your dental hygienist about alternative tools, like interdental brushes.
- Rinse your mouth with a fluoride mouthwash after brushing to remove any germs you may have missed.
Even if you have excellent brushing and flossing habits, you still need to see your dental professional regularly for check-ups. At these appointments, they will remove any plaque you have missed with your at-home oral care routine.
Why a Dental Professional Is Best
It takes more education and specific training to remove tartar than you may realise. Dental hygienists typically study for about three years to properly clean teeth.
Education aside, a person probing sharp or inappropriate tools into their mouth can easily damage their teeth or gums. While you may assume that you know your mouth better than anyone else, your dental professional should be the one in charge of safe tartar removal. Only they can successfully remove tartar build-up on teeth. They do this through a process using manual scaling tools or with an ultrasonic device.
Don't let affordability be the reason you shy away from professional help, either. If cost is a concern, there are many options for affordable dentistry,such as dental and dental hygiene schools. At these clinical facilities, supervised students provide low-cost care to gain clinical experience.
With the proper at-home prevention of a daily oral hygiene routine and regularly seeing your dentist and dental hygienist for a check-up, you'll no longer be wondering how to remove tartar from your teeth!