Everyone knows that daily brushing and flossing are key for good dental health. But do you know why it’s so important to maintain these dental habits?
The truth is that brushing and flossing play a role in removing tartar from your teeth, which contributes to overall dental health. Here are a few things you need to know about tartar – and why it’s so important to prevent tartar buildup.
Tartar: What is it?
Even when you are proactive about brushing your teeth, there are microscopic bacteria that live in your mouth. These small organisms mix with food byproducts and proteins to create a sticky film that can coat the inside of your mouth, known as dental plaque.
It’s normal and expected for plaque to coat your teeth, get into the gums, and stick to the surfaces of your mouth. The plaque holds the bacteria against the surface of your teeth, which can result in damage to the enamel and lead to the formation of dental decay.
When you are proactive about removing plaque, then it helps to prevent gum disease and tooth damage. But if you don’t remove the plaque, then it can build up and harden into tartar.
Tartar (also known as calculus) is a buildup that can collect on the surface of the teeth and between the teeth – both below and above the gum line. When tartar is left untreated, it can start to lead to other dental complications such as gum disease and receding gums.
Your toothbrush won’t take away the tartar since the brush bristles aren’t enough to remove the hardened buildup. The only way to get rid of tartar is to visit your dentist for a cleaning. But between dental appointments, you should be proactive about preventing tartar buildup so you can minimize the amount that needs to be removed when you go in for your dental cleaning.
The Impact of Tartar on the Gums and Teeth
There are many ways that tartar buildup can take a toll on your dental health. For example, when a lot of tartar builds up, it is harder to brush and floss effectively because the calculus is blocking your access to that portion of the tooth. Leaving tartar on the surface of your teeth increases the risk of tooth decay and cavities.
It’s especially concerning when tartar buildup happens under the gum line. These pockets hold infection-causing bacteria that can increase your risk of progressive gum disease.
The first stage of gum disease is known as gingivitis. Usually, this early stage can be reversed when you start flossing, brushing, and using mouthwash more frequently. The first line of defense against gum disease is daily oral health so you can prevent the buildup of plaque and tartar on the visible surfaces of your teeth.
When gum disease progresses, it can take a toll on the gums. The tartar starts to build up under the gum line, causing infections to develop because of the presence of infection-causing bacteria. This stage of gum disease is known as periodontitis.
Not only does progressive gum disease impact your teeth and gums, but researchers have also found connections between the presence of gum disease and higher risk of other health complications. For example, patients with gum disease have a higher risk of heart disease and other comorbidities.
Best Practices to Prevent Tartar Buildup
The good news is that proactive dental care at home can be an effective way to prevent tartar buildup on your teeth. Here are some of the best practices and tips from our experienced dental team:
- Brush Your Teeth: Dental health always comes back to the basics: brushing your teeth twice a day. Make sure you are using a good toothbrush and moving the bristles across your teeth for two minutes during each brushing session. A quick 30-second bushing session isn’t enough to remove tartar from your teeth.
- Choosing a Toothbrush: Ideally, you should be using a soft-bristled toothbrush with a head that is the right size to fit in your mouth. If the toothbrush is too big, then it can be hard to reach the molars in the back of the mouth. Consider using an electric toothbrush, such as Sonicare, with technology that helps to clean the teeth more effectively. Researchers have found that these powered toothbrushes are more effective at getting rid of plaque, which helps with preventing tartar buildup.
- Thorough Brushing: Make sure you are proactive about brushing all surfaces of your teeth. Not only do you need to brush the visible surfaces on the front of the teeth, but also position the toothbrush to reach the backs and sides of the teeth. Talk to our dental team and we can show you the best ways to hold and move the toothbrush.
- Always Floss: Using dental floss is essential to reach the buildup between the teeth. Your toothbrush won’t touch these surfaces of the teeth, but dental floss can get into the tiny crevices. Floss at least once a day.
- Quality Toothpaste: Choose a reputable brand of toothpaste that has tartar-controlling properties. Also, make sure the toothpaste contains fluoride to strengthen the enamel and protect against cavities and tooth decay.
- Change Your Diet: Stay away from foods that feed the bacteria in your mouth. These small organisms thrive on sugars and starches. So, avoid candy, sugary cereal, and other sweets. If you choose to eat these foods, then limit consumption in one sitting and always rinse your mouth and brush your teeth after eating.
- Stop Smoking: The risk of tartar buildup increases if you smoke or use other tobacco products. Break the habit of smoking and you will also reduce your risk of tartar and other dental complications.
If you already have tartar buildup on your teeth, then the best solution is to visit a dental office for professional cleaning services. Cleanings and checkups every six weeks are ideal to remove current tartar buildup and prevent further problems.
If you want to learn more about dental health or you would like to schedule an appointment, then reach out to our skilled team today. You can contact Cosmetic & Family Dentistry of Las Colinas to meet with a local dental expert. We are here to help!