It is widely known that brushing twice a day is the first step to eliminating tartar, keeping the gums and teeth healthy, and preventing cavities. But, does anyone really understand what tarter and plaque are or how harmful they really are to our oral health? What we do know is that maintaining a healthy mouth is critical to keeping the rest of our body healthy, so it’s important to understand how tartar forms and how to properly remove plaque naturally.
Why Is Plaque and Tartar Harmful?
If you ever took high school biology, then you know that bacteria thrive in moist environments. Therefore, the mouth is the perfect place for bacteria to grow. These bacteria then mix with protein and food remnants that create a sticky substance known as plaque which can stick to your teeth. Left unbrushed, this sticky residue can build up in areas like the back of the mouth or in between teeth that are harder to clean. As this plaque builds up, it can cause acids from the food you eat to stick to the teeth, which damages your tooth’s enamel and increases your risk of a gum infection. Left untreated, what could have been a simple solution causes tooth decay.
Plaque that has not been cleared away hardens and becomes a substance known as tartar. Tartar is even more likely to damage your teeth and gums, which could lead to serious health problems such as gingivitis, bone degradation or heart disease as it moves into your system. Once tartar has formed on the teeth, your dentist is the only one who can safely remove it, so be sure to see your dentist every six months to avoid plaque and tartar buildup complications.
Removing plaque on a daily basis decreases your chances of tartar buildup that leads to more serious dental problems such as cavities, gingivitis, and bad breath. Healthy dental habits, such as brushing for two minutes twice daily and flossing after every brush, can help you prevent the harmful effects of plaque buildup.
1. Brush Twice a Day
Brushing regularly is your first line of defense in removing plaque from your teeth before it builds up and forms tartar. Choose a soft-bristled brush and take your time to brush all surfaces in your mouth, including places that are difficult to reach like the area behind your molars. Most dental professionals recommend brushing for at least 2 minutes.
If you want to step it up a notch, give an electric toothbrushes a try. Electronic toothbrushes seem to be more effective in removing plaque than a regular toothbrush. Just be sure to look for a toothbrush that has been approved by the American Dental Association for the best results.
2. Use the Right Toothpaste
There are a number of toothpaste options on the market: natural, fluoride-free or fluoride. Your dentist recommends that you use a toothpaste with fluoride to help prevent plaque from forming into tartar while also repairing damage to the teeth. Toothpaste with triclosan may also be useful as it can kill bacteria often found in the mouth.
3. Floss Regularly
We often can’t reach plaque with a toothbrush. Therefore, floss regularly to remove plaque that could be forming in-between your teeth and prevent it from turning into tartar.
4. Watch What You Eat
Some of our favorite foods are the biggest culprits when it comes to plaque and tarter buildup. In particular, starchy and sugary foods feed the bacteria that form plaque. Therefore, if you want to naturally remove (or prevent) plaque and tartar from forming, eliminate sugary foods from your diet; drink water with and after meals, or brush after eating sugary foods.
5. Eat “an apple a day”
Interestingly enough eating an apple or melon after a meal will help keep your teeth clean by naturally removing plaque. It’ll also keep cleanse your palate, improve gum health, prevent oral bleeding and keep other doctors away (or so we’ve heard).
6. Get More Vitamin C in Your Diet
Getting more vitamin C in your diet not only helps prevent illness but can improve your dental health. Here are a couple of ways you can use vitamin C to remove plaque:
- Dip your toothbrush into fresh-squeezed lime juice and brush your teeth with it twice a day.
- Rub freshly cut strawberries or tomatoes on your teeth and leave the juice on your teeth for 5 minutes.
- Consume more vitamin C rich foods like papaya, bell pepper, orange, lemon, lime or berries.
7. Brush with Baking Soda
If you do apply citrus directly to your teeth, rinse your mouth with a baking soda solution. You can also brush with baking soda to naturally remove plaque from your teeth. Simply dip a damp toothbrush into a bowl of baking soda and brush your teeth as you would normally do. For more effectiveness, add a pinch of salt to the baking soda before brushing.
8. Use a Dental Pick
Dental picks can be used at home to remove hard tartar that can build up on or between teeth. You’ll want to use a magnifying mirror with good lighting while using a pick so you can easily see the yellow tartar. As you pick, spit as frequently as you might spit at the dentist’s office to get the tartar out of your mouth. However, do not pick too deep into the gum tissue. Doing so could cause irritation to the gums or an infection.
The key to naturally removing plaque and tartar is to follow up all home treatments with regular cleaning and screening appointments with your dentist. If it’s been more than six months since you’ve seen the dentist, call the best dentist in North Raleigh today and schedule your appointment. New patients are always welcome, and we are proud to provide dental care for your entire family. Don’t wait until you have a dental emergency, call our office today!