What to Know About Tartar and Your Teeth

Daily brushing and flossing help keep your teeth clean from plaque, which attracts bacteria. Too much bad bacteria can lead to tooth decay. If you have been neglecting your teeth, however, plaque may not be your biggest concern. You should be more worried about tartar buildup. If you haven’t been keeping your smile as clean as you should, check out what you should know about tartar and your teeth.


Tartar Is Hardened Plaque

Plaque is the sticky substance that gets on and between your teeth from eating and drinking. Some foods and beverages are worse at creating plaque, such as bread. On the other hand, some hard cheeses and apples can remove plaque as you eat.

Luckily, plaque is easy to clean. Brushing, flossing, and rinsing with water and even your own saliva help flush plaque from your teeth. However, neglecting to brush properly or at all and difficult-to-clean teeth (crooked teeth, overly crowded teeth, etc.) allow this plaque to remain.

The remaining plaque turns into tartar within about 24 to 72 hours. Just like plaque, tartar can attract more bacteria, which can further worsen the problem. You can often spot tartar yourself by looking for yellowish spots near the gum line.


Tartar Can Lead to Many Complications

Tartar leads to many complications. First, tartar makes it harder to clean your teeth. You can’t brush away the tartar, so you can’t brush the tooth tissue under the tartar. If there is a lot of tartar between your teeth, flossing may also prove difficult. If you can’t clean your mouth properly, the problem will only continue to worsen.

Tartar doesn’t just cause cavities. It can also irritate your gums and cause gum disease. If you only develop gingivitis, your dentist and you can work together to quickly treat and reverse the problem. If your condition has advanced to periodontitis, however, the effects are irreversible without major procedures like gum grafts.

If you do develop periodontitis because of your tartar, gaps can develop between the tooth and gums. Bacteria love this because it gives them a new access point to your teeth: the root, which is unprotected by enamel. The gums are supposed to protect the tooth’s root, and if they aren’t doing their job, severe decay and infection may soon follow.


Tartar Should Be Removed By a Professional

Brushing and flossing daily is really important because plaque quickly becomes tartar, and once it’s tartar, you can’t remove it on your own, or at least, you shouldn’t. Tartar needs to be scraped off, and trying to do this at home can cause you to scratch the enamel and severely damage your teeth.

For this reason, you must visit your dentist office to remove tartar. The dental assistant will safely scale away the tartar with a sharp tool. The teeth are also smoothed because a rough surface makes it easier for plaque and bacteria to cling.

Depending on how much tartar you had, your dentist may recommend using an electric toothbrush, buying special toothpaste with fluoride and avoiding certain foods. If you smoke, your dentist will also suggest you stop smoking as it can increase the risk of tartar and gum disease.

Plaque is easy to remove, but if you miss some or forget to brush and floss for a while, it can quickly harden into tartar, which can’t be removed at home. Only a good dental cleaning can safely eliminate tartar without damaging teeth.

For more information about tartar and cleanings, contact us at Snodgrass-King today. We perform routine cleanings that can keep your teeth free from tartar. Schedule an appointment with us.