12 Tips to Prevent Tartar Buildup
Have you ever wondered what we mean when we talk about dental plaque? This is an important topic because plaque and tartar buildup on your teeth can lead to gum disease and tooth decay. At Prescott Dentistry, we believe in holistic, preventative dental care. Read on to learn more about plaque and tartar as well as some helpful tips to prevent tartar buildup in the first place.
What is plaque, exactly?
Plaque is a sticky, usually colorless, layer of biofilm that forms on your teeth. When the food you eat mixes with saliva it produces bacteria, which collect where the teeth and gums meet.
What is the difference between plaque and tartar?
Tartar is a hard, yellow/brown substance that can only be removed at a professional dental cleaning. It forms as a result of a reaction between the minerals in your saliva and plaque. Tartar can cause tooth discoloration, tooth loss, cavities, gum recession and gum disease. Removing plaque daily through proper brushing and flossing can prevent the development of tartar altogether.
What happens if plaque and tartar build up?
Tartar and plaque can:
- Cause bad breath, from bacteria buildup
- Destroy enamel, the hard outer layer of teeth, which can in turn, lead to tooth sensitivity, cavities, and even tooth loss
- Promote gum disease
How do I know if I have a tartar buildup?
The best way to know if you have a tartar buildup is to visit your dentist here at Prescott Dentistry, however some signs to look for include:
- Yellow/brown discoloration of the teeth or gums
- Swollen/red gums
How to Prevent Tartar Buildup
- Brush at least twice a day.
- Use proper brushing technique. Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle, using small gentle, circular motions. Brush for 2 minutes.
- Floss daily. Floss removes plaque that builds up between the teeth, where your toothbrush cannot reach. For proper flossing technique, refer to this previous blog post.
- Watch what you eat. Sugar feeds plaque-forming bacteria, so it’s best to avoid things like candy and refined, processed carbohydrates. Munching on raw veggies can help remove plaque and tartar.
- Regular dental cleanings. Come see us twice a year for professional cleanings. As part of your regular oral hygiene routine, this is the most effective way to prevent tartar buildup.
- Get a high-quality toothbrush. While not absolutely necessary, we recommend electric toothbrushes because they tend to be more effective at removing plaque. They are also easier to use for those with arthritis in the hands.
- Cease tobacco use.
- Try drinking green tea. Green tea controls bacteria and lowers the acidity of saliva, reducing the buildup of dental plaque. A recent study conducted in Egypt tested people before and after rinsing with green tea. The test subjects who rinsed with green tea had less harmful bacteria (which can lead to tooth decay) and acid in their mouths than those who didn’t.
- Consider using a water flosser. Water flossing doesn’t remove all plaque, so the ADA does not recommend using that technique as a replacement for using dental floss. However, it can be a great addition to your daily oral hygiene routine. Using both will ensure that your pearly whites remain as clean and healthy as possible.
- Chew xylitol gum. Several studies show that xylitol can reduce cavities and tooth decay by as much as 30-85%. Streptococcus mutans is the bacteria that is commonly responsible for the buildup of plaque on our teeth. Sugar feeds the bacteria, but xylitol starves it.
- Oil Pulling. Oil pulling reduces plaque-induced gum disease and the amount of bacteria in the mouth.
- Brush with baking soda. Baking soda is a mild abrasive that can help scrub plaque from your teeth. It also creates an alkaline environment in your mouth, combating acid and preventing the buildup of bacteria. To use this remedy, make a paste by mixing one teaspoon of baking soda with one to two teaspoons of water. Use this paste to brush your teeth a few times a week.
Give us a Call
Our friendly practitioners at Prescott Dentistry are committed to providing you and your family with the highest level of dental care. Contact us today to learn more about our dental services and to schedule a cleaning and exam. We look forward to giving you a reason to smile!
Photo by Frank Busch on Unsplash