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Tartar is the enemy of a beautiful smile. Any time it’s been a little too long between dental visits, you can be sure it’s building up on your teeth. And once you learn what tartar is, you’ll probably be even more eager to get rid of it.

Any time you eat or drink, the bacteria in your mouth mix with the food and saliva to form a sticky substance that clings to your teeth. This substance is plaque, and it can wreak all kinds of havoc on your teeth and gums if left unchecked. The bacteria in plaque feed on the sugars in your food, producing acid that damages your teeth. In time, plaque will harden into a deposit called tartar, which a dentist or hygienist must remove with special tools during your next visit. 

While the idea of having a mouth full of bacteria might seem pretty unhygienic, fear not: oral bacteria is normal and sometimes even helpful. The key is to practice good dental hygiene to fight harmful bacteria, prevent tartar buildup, and keep your smile looking great. 

What Does Tartar Buildup Look Like?

Tartar is often easy to see on your front and lower teeth. Common in the areas between teeth or at the start of the gum line, plaque can range from colorless to pale yellow and usually won’t come off through brushing or flossing. In time, a tartar buildup on teeth can become even more apparent until it becomes difficult to brush or floss properly. However, just because you can’t see any tartar on your front teeth doesn’t mean it’s not there. Tartar on the back of your teeth is also common and can be just as bad for your oral health. 

In time, tartar can cause all sorts of oral health issues, including a receding gum line or cavities. When the buildup becomes severe enough to impact brushing and flossing, it speeds up the adverse effects of poor dental hygiene, resulting in gingivitis and tooth decay. Tartar itself is harmful because the bacteria it contains will continue to secrete acid onto your teeth and gums, damaging your enamel and gumline. 

How to Remove Tartar Buildup

At home, the best thing you can do to combat tartar buildup is by preventing it before it starts. Meeting your quota of twice-daily tooth brushing for the full two minutes each time is the only way to ensure you’re entirely removing plaque from teeth before it can harden. Tartar between teeth is especially damaging, so make sure to floss regularly to stop it from forming in the first place. Tartar buildup with a permanent retainer is also a concern, so be sure you’re following your dental hygienist’s instructions for proper cleaning. 

When it comes to tartar buildup removal, only a dentist or hygienist can help. Removing tartar thoroughly and safely requires special tools. The rate at which people accumulate tartar can vary from person to person. As a result, people who experience rapid tartar buildup will need to go in for more frequent tooth cleanings. 

This hard substance on your teeth might not be good for you, but it’s also relatively normal. At Pinnacle Dental Associates, we’re happy to talk to our patients about the best way to manage their teeth cleanings at home to make each routine cleaning quick and easy. With just a little extra effort, worrying about tartar can be a thing of the past!