Everyone knows they need to brush and floss regularly to get rid of dental plaque, but few understand the relationship between plaque and tartar. When you fail to get rid of plaque, minerals in your saliva react with bacteria in the plaque. Over time, this mineralization process causes plaque to harden into dental calculus, which is more commonly referred to as tartar.
Tartar feels rough against your tongue, can significantly affect your dental health, and cannot be removed at home via brushing or flossing. As such, you should follow these tips to prevent plaque from hardening into tartar.
Brush and Floss Daily
For tartar to form, there needs to be plaque. The mineralization process that causes plaque to harden into tartar takes time, so brushing twice a day and flossing once a day can help ensure that it doesn’t happen. Many people miss hard-to-reach areas, including along the back of the front teeth, so make sure you hold your brush at a 45-degree angle to get at every nook and crevice. If tartar has been a problem in the past, consider picking up a special tartar-control toothpaste
Even if you brush religiously, plaque can still form into tartar if you follow certain poor habits. One of them is smoking – the use of any tobacco, whether smoked or chewed, will encourage the build-up of tartar. If you need another reason to kick the cigarettes, there it is. If you can’t stop yourself smoking, use toothpaste and mouthwash specially formulated for smokers to fight back against plaque.
Cut Out Sugary Snacks
It’s the bacteria in plaque that reacts with minerals to form tartar. Bacteria feeds on what you put inside your mouth, but sugary food provides by far the most nourishment for them. Anything high in sugar encourages the growth of bacteria and makes it easier for tartar to form.
Visit the Hygienist
It’s practically impossible to entirely avoid tartar, which is why you should regularly see a hygienist. They will perform scaling, which involves scraping away the tartar that has managed to develop. It’s easy for a small amount of tartar to encourage further build-ups, so seeing the hygienist is vital.
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