Everyone knows that having plaque on their teeth is bad, but what is even worse is when that plaque is allowed to form into dental calculus. More commonly known as tartar, dental calculus refers to a build-up of plaque that hardens against the teeth. This occurs when the minerals in your saliva combine with the bacteria in plaque. The result is a rough surface that can significantly impact your dental health. So how can you prevent tartar build-up?
Daily flossing and brushing
You should already be brushing and flossing your teeth each day to safeguard your oral health, but it's worth stating once again how important this is during any discussion of tartar. The mineralisation process involved in the formation of tartar makes plaque immensely more difficult to remove than normal plaque, but that process takes time. If you floss each day and brush twice a day, plaque shouldn't get a chance to harden into tartar in the first place. If you find tartar build-up a particular problem, try switching to a tartar-control toothpaste with fluoride.
Hitting every spot
You might already be brushing as much as you should, but you cannot properly prevent tartar unless you're also brushing right – you really do need to reach every surface. One of the most common areas of tartar build-up is along the back of the lower front teeth. This is partly due to the fact that saliva tends to pool in this area, but it's also because people frequently neglect this area while brushing. At the end of each brushing session, angle the brush downwards so you can brush along the whole area. Moving up and down instead of just side to side will get into the gaps where tartar can easily develop.
Check your habits
If you smoke tobacco or eat a lot of sugary snacks, you should try to cut back if you want to inhibit the development of tartar. Using tobacco in any form can help increase the build-up of tartar, and eating anything high in sugar will encourage the growth of the bacteria that is required during the mineralisation process. If you find it impossible to change, at least rinse your mouth with some water after indulging.
Visit the Hygienist
Once formed, tartar can only be gotten rid of by a dental professional. The process is called scaling, and, though dentists sometimes perform this work, it is a something more commonly left to hygienists. Having a little bit of tartar only encourages the development of more, so see your hygienist regularly if you want to keep on top of things.
For more information and advice, contact a local dentist.