You may have heard your dentist talk about the problems that plaque can cause when you aren’t taking good enough care of your oral hygiene. But have you also heard of the term tartar? If you’re just now realizing you’re not sure what that means, we’ll give you a hint: it’s not the sauce they serve on the side of fish!
Our practitioners Fadi Beydoun, DMD, MS; Alexander Kimon, DMD; Karina Zaygermakher, DMD, know all about tartar and want you to be informed on the subject as well. After all, our Downtown Dental Studios office sees patients every year who would benefit greatly from this information to take better care of their teeth and gums.
The word tartar might be confusing, but most of us know what plaque is. Plaque is the stuff that is left on your teeth after you eat and drink. It’s quite sticky and viscous when it first attaches to your teeth, but it’s full of bacteria.
Usually, by just brushing and flossing correctly twice a day, you can get rid of the new plaque. But sometimes, we get a bit lax with our dental routines. Some people don’t brush as often as they should, while others skip flossing altogether. This behavior can cause plaque to harden and turn into calculus — otherwise known as tartar.
The truth about tartar
“Well,” you may say to yourself, “I’m going to get plaque on my teeth and gums no matter what I do. Is it that bad for it to turn into tartar?” The answer is a resounding yes, and here’s why.
Tartar will coat the outside of a tooth and can even get below the line of the gums. If the latter issue occurs, it can lead to periodontal or gum disease. The more mild form of periodontal disease is gingivitis, but it can turn into periodontitis if left untreated.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that 47.2% of adults in the US over 30 struggle with periodontal disease. This is a concerning figure, but it becomes especially troubling when you realize how periodontal disease is entirely preventable with good oral hygiene and frequent cleanings.
Because the truth about tartar is when it’s still in its plaque stage, it can be easily removed at home with an effective and consistent oral hygiene routine. But once it becomes tartar, you will need to come to our office to remove it.
To remove — or prevent — tartar buildup
It is always better to prevent the buildup of plaque yourself than to have your dentist remove it as tartar. Not only does tartar cause periodontal disease, but it can also make it harder for your regular cleaning routine to work on the teeth underneath it. This can cause your teeth to experience cavities, decay, and other issues.
Therefore, we recommend doing all of the following to prevent tartar buildup before anything else.
- Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste for at least two minutes each time.
- Replace your toothbrush every three months.
- Floss your teeth once daily.
- Consider using an electric toothbrush, which studies like this one from 2013 have shown is better at removing plaque.
- Don’t smoke, as it only increases the plaque buildup in your mouth.
- Use mouthwash to rinse out your mouth every day as another line of defense.
If you realize you are already dealing with tartar, you will need to make an appointment at our office, as tartar cannot be removed at home. Some signs of early periodontal disease are red and swollen gums that bleed. Signs of cavities include toothache and sensitivity.
Bust tartar today!
Together, we can fight the buildup of tartar in your mouth and allow you to take good care of your teeth. If it’s been a while since you’ve seen your dentist, we are ready for you to make an appointment at our office in NYC’s Financial District anytime! Just call 212-964-3337 or book online.