It might be a favorite companion to a fish fry, but when it comes to your oral health, tartar can quickly become your enemy. Tartar is a tough, damaging buildup of bacteria that grows along the base of your teeth. If tartar is not cleaned and removed, it can lead to a whole host of oral health complications.
Don’t let tartar put your mouth at risk for gum disease, tooth loss, or decay! In the sections below, we’ll help you brush up on your knowledge of how to manage, treat, and prevent tartar.
1. Tartar begins as plaque.
Plaque is a sticky film that forms over teeth naturally throughout the day from saliva, food, and fluids. Plaque could be colorless, or it could have a pale yellow tint. No matter the color, plaque contains acid-forming bacteria that can eat away at your tooth enamel, causing cavities to form.
It doesn’t take long for plaque to start forming on your teeth (anywhere between four to 12 hours). Luckily, plaque can be removed with regular brushing, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash. Once the plaque is left to harden on your teeth, it becomes tartar – which is much more damaging to teeth and can only be removed by a dental professional.
2. Tartar comes in two forms.
There are two forms of tartar: supragingival and subgingival. The type of tartar that you have depends on its placement relative to your gum line. Supragingival tartar refers to tartar that is visible above the gum line.
Conversely, subgingival tartar refers to tartar that is below the gum line. Because subgingival tartar is not visible, you may not even know that you have it! Your dentist will examine your mouth with an instrument called an “explorer” to see if you have hidden tartar.
3. Tartar hurts your teeth and gums.
Maintaining healthy teeth and gums is impossible if you are not regularly removing plaque and tartar. That’s because both of these can be incredibly detrimental to your oral health. Here’s why:
- Plaque contains acid-forming bacteria, which wears away at your enamel
- Plaque and tartar contribute to bad breath
- Tartar is porous, making it much easier for tooth discoloration and staining to set in
- Tartar is a precursor to gingivitis and periodontal disease, causing bleeding gums, receding gums, decay, and even tooth loss
- Gingivitis can often be reversed by upping your at-home oral hygiene routine. Periodontitis, on the other hand, is not as easy to resolve. A professional cleaning is a must to control the damage. Severe cases may require periodontal surgery to protect teeth, gums, and the jawbone from infection.
4. Prevent tartar by regularly cleaning plaque.
Tartar is a common dental problem, but it is also entirely preventable. Here are some easy ways to keep your mouth protected from damage due to plaque and tartar:
- Brush twice a day, for two minutes each session.
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush.
- Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to get the cracks and crevices along the gum line between teeth.
- Use toothpaste with fluoride to strengthen enamel.
- Floss once a day.
- Use a mouth rinse once or twice a day.
Of course, one of the best ways to ensure that your teeth and gums stay healthy is by keeping up with regular dental appointments. Your dentist will closely examine your teeth for any early warning signs of gum disease and will remove tartar as soon as it forms. If you’re due for a cleaning, don’t give tartar the chance to hurt your oral health – call TruBlu Dentistry today! We’ll make sure your teeth are clean, healthy, and free from tartar.