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What is Tartar? 7 Things Every Patient Should Know

Dentist in Naperville

We often hear the words “plaque” and “tartar buildup” in the same sentence. We know they’re bad for your teeth and it is best to avoid them. However, sometimes it isn’t always clear what they are and what the difference is between them, so you may not be aware of the particular dangers of tartar to your oral health. If you’re hoping to take good care of your teeth, here are eight things that you should know about tartar.

1. Over time, your plaque becomes tartar.

You’ve probably heard that removing plaque from your teeth is important. This colorless, sticky film of bacteria hides on your teeth and is very difficult to see. Luckily, with a solid brushing routine, plaque can be removed. If it isn’t, however, it becomes tartar—the calcified substance that attaches to your teeth along the gum line.

2. Everyone has plaque, but tartar is another story.

Having plaque on your teeth is completely normal. As we eat and breathe, bacteria form in the mouth and create this substance. However, it is only when we fail to remove plaque that it turns into tartar. This is when oral health and cosmetic issues begin to take hold.

3. If you have tartar buildup, you can probably see it!

Unlike plaque, tartar is very easy to see—it is actually porous and therefore can hold stains from things like coffee or tobacco products and make them harder to get rid of. If you’re wondering if you have tartar on your teeth, look for a brown or yellow deposit along the gum line.

4. Tartar has a big impact on your health.

Tartar can definitely have a negative impact on your oral health. As it builds along your gum line, it can cause irritation. This may progress to gingivitis—the earliest phase of gum disease. Then, over time, pockets may form between the teeth and gums, which can become infected and turn into periodontitis. Gum disease, if left untreated, can lead to all kinds of health issues including heart disease, stroke, respiratory illness, and even complications with pregnancy.

5. Your diet could be having an effect on your tartar buildup.

If your diet is heavy in starchy and sugary foods, you just might be contributing to your tartar buildup. The bacteria in plaque feast on these foods and, in return, release acids that attack the enamel of your teeth. For this reason, you’ll want to be careful about eating a healthy, well-balanced diet so as to limit your intake of plaque-friendly foods. This way, you can manage your plaque and make sure it doesn’t turn into tartar over time.

6. You can easily prevent tartar buildup!

The good news is: tartar buildup is easy to prevent. Brushing twice a day and after meals will help remove plaque before it causes damage. Be sure to get those hard-to-reach places behind your teeth and around your molars. Electric toothbrushes and tartar-control toothpaste are particularly helpful. Also, don’t forget to floss! Flossing helps remove plaque in between the teeth where the plaque loves to hide. Rinse daily with an antiseptic mouthwash to kill the harmful bacteria as well. Finally, be certain to avoid the use of tobacco products. Studies have shown that smokers are much more likely to have tartar buildup.

7. If you have tartar buildup, Caputo Dental can help!

Unfortunately, once tartar sets in, you won’t be able to remove it yourself. Only a dentist or dental hygienist can remove tartar buildup by using the scaling method, in which we use special instruments specifically for the purpose of removing tartar from your teeth below the gum line.

If you’ve noticed tartar buildup along your gum line, call our Naperville office today to schedule an appointment.

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