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When you run your tongue along the bottom of your teeth towards your gum line, what do you feel? If you detect a sticky film on your pearly whites, you are not alone! This colorless film is called plaque, and can harden into tartar if you don’t keep your teeth clean every day. Tartar is a crusty deposit which traps stains on your teeth. Calcium and phosphate bind together to form crystals on your teeth above your gum line, irritating gum tissue. If tartar isn’t removed, over time it can lead to gum disease.

As bacteria in the mouth reacts with sugar and starches from the food we eat and drink, it produces acids that can erode tooth enamel. Left to flourish, this film hardens fairly quickly into tartar. Plaque starts to form four to twelve hours after you brush your teeth. After tartar bonds to your teeth you will need a dental professional with scaling instruments to remove it.

Controlling Tartar

–Brush 2x a day, every day, for two minutes. Less time than two minutes at the sink won’t be enough to remove the plaque building up. Pay attention to back molars, as plaque tends to accumulate there. Use a soft-bristle toothbrush to gently clean the gums.

–It has been shown that powered toothbrushes are actually more effective at clearing plaque than manual toothbrushes. They also easily reach the hard to reach back areas, and are easy to use by people with limited manual dexterity, including children and older people who may have arthritis or any condition that limits mobility.

–Use an ADA (American Dental Association) approved tartar-control toothpaste. This helps curb plaque, and if you use a fluoride toothpaste it can help repair damaged tooth enamel. ADA products have been rigorously tested which means they are not only safe to use but effective.

–Next, floss those pearly whites! Even a powered toothbrush can’t reach the spaces between teeth. Floss carefully at least once a day, and be gentle near the gums and gum line. You can use any kind of flossing method, including waxed string or ribbon or a hand held pick.

–Using an ADA approved antiseptic mouthwash can help remove bacteria that could turn into plaque.

–Limiting the exposure of your teeth and gums to sugars and starches which encourage bacterial acids from forming will also help. Sip sweetened drinks through a straw, and eat a healthy balanced diet.

–Avoid dry mouth as saliva helps neutralize bacterial acids. Stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of H2O!

–Get bi-annual dental cleanings to remove tartar. Your daily efforts will reduce tartar buildup but it won’t prevent it completely. Your dentist will scale the tartar off, helping you prevent gum disease.

Our team at Dr. Steven A. Beuligmann’s office is always happy to help you smile! Please call us at 760.729.5964 to schedule your next cleaning or answer any questions.