Tartar buildup on teeth doesn’t happen overnight. If your brushing habits aren’t up to par, tartar gradually builds, potentially causing big trouble in your mouth. Here are seven tips to prevent tartar buildup on teeth (and the only way to remove it!).

What is dental tartar?

Dental tartar starts as simple and common bacteria that we all have in our mouth. This bacteria mixes with protein and food products missed in regular brushing to form a sticky substance called plaque. At this stage, plaque can be removed at home with more attentive and regular brushing.

If plaque remains on teeth, it can begin to build up and harden into dental tartar. Also known as calculus, tartar can form above or below the gumline.

Once tartar forms below the gumline, things get more complicated. The porous nature of tartar traps bacteria. This can lead not only to tooth decay, but also to receding gums and gum disease that must be treated at your dentist’s office.

What does tartar feel like on teeth?

You know that smooth, clean feeling your teeth have after your regular dental cleaning? Tartar (and sometimes plaque) feels like the opposite of that. You may feel texture on your teeth when you run your tongue over them.

Tartar under the gumline may not feel like anything in and of itself, but you will feel its effects.

Swollen and red gums accompanied by bleeding when you floss and brush are common when tartar begins to build up. As tartar builds up and gums recede, pockets may also form in the gums, trapping bacteria. This may result in increased pain and even loosening teeth as it progresses.

How to prevent tartar buildup on teeth: 7 tips

As with many things, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to rapid tartar buildup on teeth. Here are seven tips to prevent tartar buildup.

1. Brush and floss properly

Thirty seconds, twice a day isn’t going to cut it when it comes to preventing tartar buildup. Brush your teeth properly in the morning and at night for a full two minutes, flossing at least once daily. Use a soft-bristled brush and don’t forget to pay attention to the backs of your molars.

Replace your toothbrush every two or three months (or when you notice the ends beginning to fray).

And make no mistake about it: flossing is crucial to prevent tartar buildup. Even the most diligent toothbrushers cannot get in between teeth. If traditional flossing is hard for you, use interdental flossers, floss picks, or water flossers to reach in between teeth.

2. Consider an electric toothbrush

Ask your dentist for recommendations for a high-quality electric toothbrush that can easily remove food and sticky plaque.

3. Use a tartar-control toothpaste

Give yourself a helping hand with a tartar-controlling fluoride toothpaste.

Triclosan is an ingredient in these toothpastes that can also help eliminate the bacteria found in plaque (bonus!).

4: Watch what you eat

What food causes tartar buildup? Plaque and bacteria love sticky, sugary, and starchy foods. Changing your diet to eliminate most (if not all) of these types of foods can go a long way towards building overall good health.

Avoid sodas, too, as they wash your mouth in a flood of acidic sugar that can damage enamel and contribute to tartar buildup. If you do drink soda, drink it through a straw during one period. Don’t sip at soda or other acidic drinks throughout the day, as this exposes your teeth for longer periods.

5. Use an antibacterial, non-alcoholic mouthwash

Once you have brushed and flossed, using an antibacterial mouthwash is the final step.

This helps to kill plaque-forming bacteria that brushing and flossing missed. Extra fluoride or tartar-control mouthwash offers another layer of protection, too.

6. Quit smoking

By now, the dangers of smoking and tobacco use are well-documented, but many people don’t know that smoking goes beyond just stained teeth. Smoking doubles your risk of gum disease and then hampers proper treatment. Any form of tobacco use – including vapes – increases your chances of gum disease.

Quitting smoking may be the one change to your habits that offers the best return in terms of improving your overall good health. It can be hard, but there is plenty of help for quitting smoking.

7: Visit your dentist regularly

Regular visits to the dentist can make all the difference in your oral health. Developing a relationship with your dentist means that they can track any change to your oral health and notice when something isn’t right.

Additionally, if your dentist notices tartar buildup early, they can treat it before it worsens or becomes something more complicated. The early stages of gum disease – gingivitis – can be treated with more diligent brushing and flossing. Your regular dental visits can help spot and prevent major issues with your dental health.

How to remove tartar buildup on teeth

Although plaque and sticky bacteria can be removed by proper brushing and flossing, once it hardens into tartar, only your dentist can safely remove it.

Whether tartar build up is minor and requires scraping above the gumline with a dental tool or your more serious gum disease needs a dental deep cleaning, it’s important to make an appointment as soon as you can. Gum disease has been linked to heart disease and other serious health complications. Healthy teeth are an important component of your overall good health.

When it’s time to remove tartar build up on teeth, give AZ Dentist a call. We are weekend dentists with multiple locations across Phoenix, with appointments available to suit your busy schedule.