Some people only know the word “tartar” from the sauce they put on their fried cod over at some Long John Silver’s joint. But most of us have heard of dental tartar. It’s basically the start of most dental problems.
Here’s a brief explanation of what tartar is and some ways to keep tartar from forming on your teeth. After all, every day at Gentle Dental, we’re in an ongoing fight against the stuff!
What is tartar?
Everyone has tons of bacteria in their mouth. Bacteria mix with sugars and proteins from food to form a sticky film on your teeth called plaque. Plaque is continually trying to build up on your teeth. It coats your teeth and can get under your gum line. It is the start of a process that leads to tooth decay and gum inflammation.
Fortunately, it’s easy to show plaque the door by brushing and flossing. 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. That sounds like hooey, but it’s not. Tartar can only be removed with a dental pick, and most of us don’t all have one of those lying around the house.
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 are shown to do a better job on average than manual. The American Dental Association (ADA) has recently approved a slew of electric toothbrushes for oral hygiene.
- 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.
- Floss. 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.
Now that you know about the tartar that’s not meant for Atlantic Cod, is it time for your twice-yearly cleaning and professional exam with the team at Gentle Dental. Call us at (732) 549-5660 to make your appointment.