Tartar buildup is a common dental health problem in which dental plaque stays on your teeth and hardens into tartar, also known as calculus.
Tartar usually forms below and above the gum line, leading to receding gums and gum disease and needing to be removed with special tools at the dentist’s office. However, what causes tartar buildup and how can you prevent it?
Accumulation of Dental Plaque
The first thing that leads to tartar buildup in your mouth is the accumulation of dental plaque. Once mixed with proteins and food byproducts, the natural bacteria that grows in your mouth forms a sticky yellowish film known as dental plaque. Dental plaque covers your teeth and gets under your gum line, and it can stick to fillings or other dental work.
For people with good dental hygiene, plaque is easily removed with a daily brushing and flossing routine. However, when plaque stays on your teeth, it hardens and forms tartar. Tartar is easily recognizable as a yellow or brown colored deposit that covers the gum line. Since it bonds to the tooth enamel, it can only be removed by a dental professional.
High Sugar Intake = Higher Chance of Tartar
Eating foods high in sugar and starches such as cakes, sweets, milk, soft drinks and even fruit can cause an increase in plaque bacteria that evolves into tartar. However, people with braces, crowded teeth or dry mouth, as well as smoking and aging are at a higher risk of developing tartar buildup.
HOW TO AVOID TARTAR BUILDUP
As with most dental conditions, staying on top of your dental health is the best way to prevent tartar buildup. Other ways to avoid tartar buildup include:
- Brushing and using mouthwash twice a day
- Regular, daily flossing
- Regularly scheduled visits to your dentist every 6 months for oral exams and cleaning
- Using anti-plaque fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash
- Using a quality electric toothbrush (has been shown to diminish the effects of calculus development
Sneaky Plaque Buildup: Beware!
Plaque usually has a pale yellow color, however it can also be colorless and difficult to see, which is why it’s recommended to get a dentist check-up twice a year: Using dental mirrors to spot plaque in hard to see places, your hygienist or dentist will be able to remove it with a dental scaler.
If you start seeing any signs of tartar buildup, don’t hesitate to visit your doctor. The sooner you take care of the problem and start removing it, the easier it will be for you to avoid unpleasant consequences such as receding gums, gingivitis, bad breath and even periodontal disease and tooth loss.