We all know that it is important to brush and floss our teeth regularly. From childhood we have been taught that doing so prevents tartar buildup and keeps our teeth and gums healthy. What we may not fully understand though, is just what tartar is, what leads to its formation, and how it is to be safely removed.
Even if you practice the best oral hygiene, there are bacteria in your mouth. These bacteria, along with proteins and food byproducts, form a sticky film called dental plaque. This film coats our teeth. Plaque is most prevalent in areas that are hard to clean, for example just along the gum line, on our back teeth, and around fillings or other dental products. It is kept at bay only with regular brushing and flossing. Any plaque that is left on the teeth, combined with minerals in your saliva, calcifies and forms a rough, hard deposit called tartar. Not only can tartar threaten the health of your teeth and gums, but it can also be a cosmetic problem. Because tartar is more porous than tooth enamel, it absorbs stains easily. So if you are a coffee or tea drinker, or if you smoke, it is especially important to prevent tartar buildup, as this will in turn prevent your teeth from retaining stains.
Unfortunately tartar cannot be removed by brushing and flossing once it has formed, but can only be removed by your dentist or hygienist with special instruments and a process called scaling. The cleaner you keep your mouth on a day-to-day basis with brushing and flossing, and the more regularly you visit your dentist for regular preventive care, the less tartar will accumulate in your mouth and the less likely you will be to develop gum disease. As well, studies have found that electronic toothbrushes may be more effective than manual toothbrushes for plaque removal. Tartar-control toothpaste with flouride is also beneficial, as it can help prevent plaque from hardening into tartar. Being mindful to drink plenty of water throughout the day and after meals may also help to minimize plaque buildup. Studies have also shown that those who use tobacco products are much more likely to develop tartar on their teeth and under their gums – food for thought!
If you have concerns about tartar buildup, have begun to notice stains on your teeth that may be indicative of a tartar issue, or have any questions regarding plaque, tartar, or anything else related to your oral health, don’t hesitate to come in and see us at North Burnaby Dental. We’re here to help you maintain your smile!