Plaque is a sticky, colourless or pale yellow, layer of bacteria that forms on your teeth, between teeth and along gum line when food, saliva and fluids combine together. If not removed on time, accumulated plaque hardens to form tartar (calculus) that coats the teeth with yellow or brown hard to remove deposit and also invade between teeth and above and below the gum line.
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Bacteria on plaque and tartar thrives most on sugary and starch foods, when they eat-they produce acid that attack tooth enamel, gums and supporting bones causing cavities, sensitivity, bleeding, swollen, receding gums and infection (gingivitist that can advance into periodontal disease) , tooth decay and bad breath.
What is Tartar: How Does Plaque Become Tartar?
Tartar comes about when you fail to deal with plaque. Its more like the compound effect of plaque. In 24 to 72 hours of eating without brushing and flossing your teeth, plaque turns into tartar (an easy to see layer of hard yellow or brown substance).
You ca not stop dental plaque from forming but you can stop it from turning into tartar.
Tartar Vs Plaque on Teeth
What differentiate the tartar from plaque on teeth is that while, plaque on teeth can be removed by brushing and flossing, the tartar (calculus) on the other hand can only be removed by a dental professional. However, there are some tartar removal tools sold in Amazon that can help you scrape tartar from home. But for complete removal and comfort while doing it, the dentist office is the best place to go.
Another difference between plaque and tartar is that whereas the plaque is a soft, sticky, hard to see substance on teeth; tartar (calculus) on the other hand is easy to see, hard, yellow or brown deposit on teeth. If your teeth has been white but now has changed into yellow or brown –that is an easy indication of tartar.
You are more at risk of developing tartar if you have fillings, braces, crowded,or cracked teeth, dry mouth and or into smoking.
How to Reverse Plaque Buildup on Teeth?
You can easily reverse plaque buildup on your teeth through:
- Brushing your teeth and gums for 2 minutes dentist recommended time, twice a day using an electric toothbrush eg. Oral B 8000. This is because electric toothbrushes have been proven to remove more plaque than manual toothbrushes.
- Flossing at least once a day using water flosser or interdental brush to remove plaque stuck on your teeth
- Rinse your mouth with mouthwash that has chlorhexidine ingredient or do oil pulling or drink green tea to help remove more plaque from hard to reach areas and reduce plaque buildup
- Tongue cleaning using a tongue scraper or toothbrush
- Attend dental checkup twice a year for deep cleaning
- Avoid between meals (snacking all day long) as every time you eat you attract bacteria producing acid that attack your teeth; drink water instead
- Drink enough water to protect your mouth from drying up (dry mouth) as bacteria multiply more in a dry condition
- Eat balanced diet to help saliva remineralise your teeth naturally and fight infection and cavities
- Quit smoking as it attracts more plaque buildup and delays healing process
- Chew sugar free gum for 20 minutes or eat fresh fruits and veggies to stimulate saliva production that protect and remineralize your teeth
- Use fluoride toothpaste with baking soda ingredients or tartar control toothpastes for strengthening tooth enamel and aid in getting rid of plaque on teeth.
- Use hydrogen peroxide whitening strips you can buy on Black Friday|Cyber Monday to whiten your teeth and help in removing a layer of plaque and buildup tartar
How to Get Rid Of Hard Plaque Buildup (Tartar / Calculus)?
To get rid of tartar also called calculus, you need to visit your dentist for:
- Scaling and root planning also called deep cleaning – Dentist use scaler to scrape calculus out of your teeth
- Flap surgery-lifting your gums up to clean tartar below the gum line
Dr. Tom Bell has a PhD in Medical Anthropology. He has a keen interest in oral health topics and is the founder of dentalrave. He has been an oral health researcher and electric toothbrush enthusiast for over 10 years. When not talking about dental hygiene and gadgets, Tom likes spending time outdoors hiking.