It’s hard to miss with advertisements and visits to the dentist that tartar is something you want to avoid for good oral health. But do you know what this substance is, how to keep from getting it, and what to do if tartar does develop?
What’s so bad about tartar?
Even if you brush and floss regularly, it’s impossible to get rid of all of the bacteria in your mouth. Bacteria and food residue combine to form plaque on your teeth. If left to thrive, plaque attacks your teeth and gums. It causes decay, gum inflammation, and will harden into tartar if not removed before it has the chance.
What does it do to my teeth and gums?
Tartar buildup makes it more difficult to brush and floss well, and tartar along your gums may lead to gum disease. Mild gum disease, or gingivitis, is often caused by plaque and tartar on your teeth. It can usually be reversed with careful dental hygiene. If left untreated, it will progress into periodontitis. This more serious gum disease can damage the bones and tissue that support your teeth, increasing your risk of tooth loss. It may also cause infections that contribute to heart disease and other health problems.
How can I control tartar?
Here are some ways to prevent tartar formation:
- Brush at least twice daily long enough to thoroughly clean every tooth and all of your gums. Consider using an electric toothbrush, which may be more effective for plaque removal.
- Use tartar-control fluoride toothpaste. It is formulated to help prevent tartar formation, and the fluoride can repair damage to your teeth that may have already begun.
- Floss every day to reach the areas that brushing cannot.
- Eat a healthy diet low in sugars and starches, and limit snacks between meals. Drink plenty of water to help rinse away plaque and bacteria.
- Don’t smoke because tobacco use has been shown to increase tartar buildup.
How do I get rid of it?
A professional cleaning is the only way to successfully remove tartar. See your dentist every six months for checkups and cleanings.
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