You’ve probably heard of tartar, and you probably think of the baking ingredient or that sauce you eat with fish. But dental tartar is much less pleasant. In fact, it’s very bad for your teeth because it can accelerate tooth decay.
It’s definitely not something you want, but nearly everyone will have tartar on their teeth at some point. What causes tartar on teeth, and what can you do to prevent it?
Smith and Davis Orthodontics encourages patients to start their orthodontic treatment after a good teeth cleaning because the last thing you want to do is put braces or Invisalign over a bunch of tartar on your teeth. How do you get rid of tartar? We have the answers for that!
What Is Tartar?
What is tartar made of? It’s a calcified buildup of plaque that forms along the gum line on the teeth. You often find this buildup on areas of your teeth that are harder to reach, such as the back of the incisors or at the base of your back molars.
Tartar builds up over time and needs to be removed by your dentist. Otherwise, the tartar traps bacteria against your teeth, which can lead to tooth decay. Because it’s near the gum line, it can also trap bacteria against your gums and lead to gum disease.
The sooner you have tartar removed, the better. That’s why it’s so important to visit your dentist twice a year for a thorough cleaning, even when you’re visiting us regularly for braces or Invisalign treatment.
What Causes Tartar on Teeth?
Tartar starts out as plaque on your teeth. Left untouched, that plaque builds up and hardens, called calcification. That calcified plaque is tartar.
Tartar forms usually because of a lack of good oral hygiene. It’s recommended that you brush at least twice a day, and floss at least once a day, though it’s best to brush after every meal. It also helps to brush with the right tool.
If you’re having trouble reaching certain areas or getting them really clean, consider moving from a manual toothbrush to an electric toothbrush. Electric toothbrushes give you more scrubbing power and have specialized bristles made to get into crevices your manual one may not reach.
Also, change your toothbrush or electric toothbrush head about every three months. The longer you go, the more the bristles will soften and buckle under the pressure of brushing. Eventually, they lose their effectiveness when it comes to scrubbing.
Use a soft-bristled toothbrush, but make sure the bristles are stiff and not frayed. Many toothbrushes today have “indicator bristles” that are a certain color. The color fades over time. When the color is halfway down or gone, depending on the toothbrush or toothbrush head, it’s time to change it out.
You also want to make sure you floss regularly because tartar can build up between teeth, too. If you use a water flosser, such as a Waterpik, you’re probably wondering, can a Waterpik remove tartar? The short answer is no.
In fact, a water flosser isn’t as effective removing plaque as regular dental floss, which is why you should use it at least once a day in addition to your water flosser. It’s OK to use a water flosser at other times, though, especially if you have braces. They are great for getting food particles out from around brackets.
How Do I Get Rid of Tartar?
If you notice buildup on your teeth, it may be time to visit your dentist. The dentist has tools that can remove tartar safely from your teeth without damaging your teeth or gums. Don’t try to scrape it off yourself!
You could end up damaging your teeth or gums, which could lead to infection or tooth loss. That’s because tartar can actually build up below the gum line. It takes a delicate hand and the right tools to remove it from below the gum line without damaging the gums or the tooth root. Let the professionals handle it.
You may find “home remedies” out there that say they remove it, but the only safe way to remove it is to visit your dental professional. If you find this white tartar on your teeth has built up around your braces brackets, contact your orthodontist. In the Rogers, AR, area, Smith and Davis Orthodontics can help you with your issues and help you keep tartar from building up.
How Do I Prevent Tartar?
The easiest way to prevent buildup is through diligent brushing and flossing. Brush with fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush with newer bristles. Make sure you brush at least twice a day, though ideally, you should brush after every meal. You need to floss with dental floss at least once a day, but it’s OK to use a water flosser after that if you prefer.
If you want a little extra protection, try using a fluoride mouthwash about half an hour after brushing your teeth. That gives the fluoride in your toothpaste time to work, then you can use the mouthwash to provide more fluoride protection. Some mouthwashes will also kill the bacteria that build up on your teeth and becomes plaque, which becomes tartar.
Ask us for suggestions on what mouthwash would be best for you, especially if you’re wearing clear braces or Invisalign. (Hint: Don’t use colored mouthwash that can stain your braces or Invisalign!)
Tartar Prevention in Rogers, AR
If you have questions about tartar and your orthodontic treatment, talk to us at Smith and Davis Orthodontics. We’re happy to help find the best ways for you to prevent buildup, and we work with your dentist to keep tartar off your teeth. It’s vital to take care of tartar as soon as possible with your braces or clear aligners because tooth decay can delay your treatment. Schedule an appointment with us to find out more about tartar and how we can help.