What Is Tartar?

Dark-haired woman brushing her teeth while smiling in the mirror.

Maintaining good oral hygiene is essential for a healthy smile and overall well-being. However, despite people’s best efforts, many still encounter dental issues like tartar on their teeth.

Tartar, or dental calculus, is a common dental problem that can affect anyone.

At Dental Health Care of Woburn, we strongly believe that prevention is key, but for stubborn cases, there are tartar removal methods. Though we’re always here to help, we want to provide you with the knowledge to help you prevent this problem.

So let’s take a look at two pressing questions:

  • What is tartar?
  • What causes tartar on teeth?

What is tartar?

To begin, let’s address the question: what is tartar? Tartar is a hard, yellowish, or brownish deposit forming on the teeth when plaque — a sticky film containing bacteria — accumulates and hardens.

Plaque is constantly forming on our teeth, and if not removed through regular brushing and flossing, it can mineralize and turn into tartar. Unlike plaque, you can’t remove tartar by brushing alone, as it requires professional dental intervention.

What causes tartar on teeth?

In order to take preventative measures, we need to understand the causes of tartar formation. The primary causes of tartar on teeth include:

Inadequate oral hygiene

Poor oral hygiene is a leading cause of tartar formation. Insufficient brushing and flossing allow plaque to accumulate and harden into tartar over time. Shockingly, if you don’t remove plaque adequately, it can mineralize within twenty-four to seventy-two hours, transforming into stubborn tartar.

Saliva composition

The composition of saliva varies among individuals and can influence tartar formation. Saliva plays a vital role in rinsing away food particles and neutralizing acids produced by oral bacteria.

Some people may have saliva with higher mineral content, making them more prone to tartar buildup.

Diet and lifestyle

Your dietary choices and lifestyle habits significantly impact oral health. For instance, consuming excessive amounts of sugary and starchy foods fuels bacterial growth, increasing the risk of plaque formation and, consequently, tartar buildup.

Habits like tobacco use also contribute to tartar formation and exacerbate other dental problems.

Dental irregularities

Malocclusion (improper alignment of teeth), crowded teeth, and gaps between teeth can create spaces that are challenging to clean effectively. These areas become hotspots for plaque accumulation, leading to tartar formation.

Preventing tartar formation

Prevention is your weapon in fighting tartar buildup. We created a list of effective strategies to keep tartar at bay and help you maintain a healthy smile!

Brushing technique and frequency

Brush your teeth thoroughly at least twice daily, using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Ensure you cover all surfaces and pay extra attention to the gumline, where tartar tends to accumulate.

Consider using an electric toothbrush, which is generally more effective at removing plaque.

Flossing and interdental cleaning

Flossing is crucial for removing plaque and food particles between the teeth and along the gumline. Incorporate daily flossing into your oral care routine to prevent tartar formation in hard-to-reach areas.

You may use interdental cleaners, such as dental picks or water flossers, as alternatives to traditional flossing, particularly if you have gum bleeding from traditional flossing, struggle to perform this task or find this oral hygiene practice uncomfortable.

Regular dental checkups

Schedule regular dental checkups and professional cleanings with your dentist or dental hygienist. These visits allow for the early detection and removal of tartar buildup.

Dental professionals use specialized tools to safely and effectively remove tartar, reducing the risk of dental complications.

Healthy diet choices

Maintain a balanced diet and limit your consumption of sugary and starchy foods. Instead, opt for nutrient-rich foods that promote dental health, such as fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and lean proteins.

Drinking plenty of water throughout the day also helps to wash away food particles and promote saliva production.

Avoid tobacco products

Tobacco use, including smoking and smokeless tobacco, stains teeth and contributes to tartar formation and various oral health problems. Quitting or avoiding these habits significantly improves oral hygiene and reduces your likelihood of tartar buildup.

Unfortunately, tartar on teeth is a common dental issue that can compromise oral health if left unaddressed.

By understanding what tartar is and what causes its formation, you can take proactive steps to prevent its occurrence.

Maintaining good oral hygiene practices, visiting the dentist regularly, and adopting a healthy lifestyle are all essential in the fight against tartar.

Remember, a healthy smile begins with proper care and a commitment to oral health.

So kick-start your healthy smile today by scheduling a routine visit with Dental Health Care of Woburn!

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Though we’re located in Woburn, we’re not far for the residents of Winchester, Stoneham, Burlington, Reading, Lexington, Arlington, and Wakefield.

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