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Tartar is the crusty formation of plaque on your teeth. Plaque is the sticky film that coats your teeth after you eat or drink. You can’t see it because it is colorless, but you can feel it when you run your tongue along your teeth near the gum line. Everyone has bacteria in their mouth, and this bacteria reacts with sugar and starches to produce acids which erode tooth enamel. If left untouched, this sticky film hardens fairly quickly into tartar.

Plaque starts to form on your teeth anywhere from four to twelve hours after brushing your teeth. Once it hardens into tartar, it becomes a crusty deposit which traps stains on your teeth. It bonds to the tooth and requires a dental professional with special tools to remove it.
Tartar, also called calculus is the combination of calcium and phosphate binding together and forming crystals on your teeth. Tartar which forms above your gum line can irritate and damage your gum tissue. As time goes on this could lead to gum disease.

Controlling Tartar

To avoid tartar buildup on your teeth, you can do the following steps:

–Take the time to brush twice a day for at least two minutes. A shorter brushing time can’t remove the plaque on the teeth. Pay extra attention to your molars in the back, as they get a lot of the food particles from chewing. Use a soft-bristle toothbrush.

–Research has concluded that powered toothbrushes are more effective at removing plaque than a manual toothbrush. They are especially adept at reaching the back teeth, and are excellent for people who have limited manual dexterity, whether children who have not developed the skill yet, or older people with health problems, like arthritis.

–Tartar-control toothpastes can help, especially if they have fluoride. Fluoride helps repair tooth enamel. Tartar control toothpastes help keep plaque from developing into hardened tartar.

–While toothbrushing removes plaque from teeth, it cannot remove it from between the teeth and near the gum line. That is where flossing comes into play. Floss can reach where the brush cannot. Floss at least once a day!

–Consider using an antiseptic mouthwash to help remove bacteria that can turn into plaque. Use an ADA approved product which means it has been rigorously tested and proven safe as well as effective.

–A balanced diet rich in nutrients from the recommended food groups will help your teeth and gums to stay strong. In addition, limit snacking between meals, especially sugary, starchy foods that encourage bacterial growth.

–See your dentist! Twice yearly dental cleanings are ideal for removing tartar buildup but if that is not possible, make sure it is removed at least once a year.

You can prevent tartar from destroying your oral health, and at Hawkins Family Dentistry, we are here to help. Please call our team with any questions you may have, or to schedule your next cleaning! We can be reached at 740-423-8416.