Tartar: Not Just a Sauce for Your Seafood
Several toothbrushes, toothpastes, and mouthwashes advertise that they “prevent tartar buildup” or that they offer “tartar control.” But what exactly is tartar? It’s made of something we’ve discussed before: plaque. Plaque is a sticky substance that forms when the bacteria in your mouth mixes with the leftover food on your teeth. When layers form on your enamel, in between your teeth, or under your gums, it calcifies and forms tartar.
One of the reason dentists recommend regular cleanings is to remove this tartar. The hardening of these plaque buildups makes it difficult to brush and floss, so tooth decay happens more quickly. When plaque calcifies along the bottoms of your teeth, your gums experience irritation and redness. It also covers the surfaces of your teeth and makes a perfect environment for cavity formation. An increase in plaque leads to conditions like gingivitis and periodontitis.
Even though some plaque buildup is inevitable, most of it is preventable. The three most important things you can do are brush, floss, and rinse! The best thing you can do for your teeth is find a reliable electric toothbrush to remove as much buildup as possible at home. Flossing helps eliminate a significant amount of bacteria from in between your teeth, and that crucial last rinse cleanses your mouth of all the extra gunk. Checking these three things off your to-do list twice a day helps maintain a healthy smile in between your visits to the dentist.
During a dental cleaning your hygienist uses a metal instrument to scrape away excess plaque. He or she usually targets areas along your gumline or in between your teeth where bacteria congregate to form plaque. This process, called scaling, is something you can’t do yourself at home-even the best electric toothbrush can’t reach every nook and cranny! Do yourself a favor and stay up-to-date on your regular dental appointments. Dr. Carter and her team recommend cleanings twice a year, so make sure to call our office to see us for your biannual appointment!