Tartar, or calculus, is hardened untreated plaque—a sticky bacterial film that adheres to teeth. Tartar buildup damages tooth enamel and increases the risk of tooth decay and gum diseases. Tartar is white, yellow, brown, or black. How can you keep your teeth clean and avoid tartar buildup?
How Can You Keep Your Teeth Tartar Free?
You can keep your teeth tartar free with regular, thorough oral hygiene habits at home and professional care from a dentist.
Oral hygiene habits at home
The American Dental Association encourages practicing good oral hygiene at home with these habits:
- Brush twice daily – Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and non-abrasive paste to brush your teeth for two minutes. Repeat brushing in the evening after your last meal. The vibration of an electric toothbrush can break up plaque on teeth.
- Floss daily – Once daily, floss between all your teeth. Form the floss in a “C” shape around each tooth to remove food particles. A water flosser will flush out debris between teeth and helps remove plaque.
- Rinse with antiseptic mouthwash – The American Dental Association recommends Listerine Antiseptic Ultraclean mouthwash for controlling tartar buildup.
- Limit snacks – Constant snacking throughout the day builds bacteria on your teeth. Limit your daily snacks.
- Limit your sugar intake – Sugar promotes acid and feeds bacteria in your mouth. Rinse your mouth thoroughly after consuming sugary drinks or foods. Plaque, tartar, tooth decay, and gum disease can develop from a steady sugar intake.
- Drink plenty of water – Water washes away bacteria in your mouth and around your teeth. It prevents dry mouth, where bacteria and plaque thrive.
- Eat well-balanced meals – Proper nutrition prevents hunger and snacking on unhealthy foods that affect your oral health negatively.
Oral hygiene at the dental office
Six-month exams and cleanings at the dentist ensure early detection of plaque buildup. When plaque hardens into tartar, only professional dental tools can remove it. If you have tartar beneath your gumline, a dental hygienist can complete a deep cleaning into the gum pockets to remove tartar.
Can You Remove Tartar at Home?
You cannot remove tartar at home because it requires several professional dental tools and advanced training. You cannot see your teeth well enough to remove tartar safely and thoroughly. Removing tartar at home has risks:
- Without proper training, you can damage your teeth, gums, or oral tissue while trying to scrape away tartar.
- In addition to removing tartar from teeth, a hygienist must smooth tooth roots and remove tartar from them.
- After scaling teeth to remove tartar, a hygienist will polish your teeth to smooth surfaces and minimize plaque buildup.
You can keep your teeth tartar free with diligent at-home care and regular checkups at the dentist. Minimizing snacks and sugary foods will help too. But do not try to remove tartar at home. It requires professional dental tools and training.