Some people only know the word “tartar” from the sauce they put on their fish sticks. But most of us have heard of dental tartar. It’s basically the start of most dental problems. Here’s a brief explanation and some ways to keep tartar from forming on your teeth.
What is tartar?
Everyone has bacteria in their mouth. They mix with sugars and proteins from food to form a sticky film on your teeth called plaque. Plaque coats your teeth and can get under your gumline. It is the start of a process that leads to tooth decay and gum inflammation.
Fortunately, you can remove plaque by brushing and flossing. Piece of cake. But if you get lazy with your home hygiene, plaque stays on your teeth and hardens into tartar. It can form in a little over a day, and once it’s there, only a dentist or dental hygienist can remove it.
Six ways to keep tartar in the sauce, not your mouth
- Brush twice a day for two minutes. A cursory 45-second job won’t get rid of all the plaque. Be thorough, covering all the tooth surfaces.
- Electronic toothbrushes may do a better job than manual effort. Either way, just be sure the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval is on your toothbrush.
- Use tartar-control toothpaste with fluoride. These can help prevent the plaque from hardening into tartar. Plus, the fluoride helps return necessary minerals to the teeth.
- Probably the single most neglected hygiene area, flossing is the only way to remove plaque between your teeth and keep tartar from forming in hard-to-reach places.
- Watch what you eat. Starchy and sugary foods make the bacteria in your mouth happy. When they eat the byproducts of these foods in your mouth, they release harmful acids that can lead to tooth decay. You don’t have to stop eating anything sweet, but just take it easy, and drink water after you do.
- Don’t smoke or quit. Studies show that smokers are more likely to have tartar on their teeth.
Is it time for your twice-yearly cleaning? Call us at Gentle Dental to schedule your appointment, (732) 549-5660.