Take a guess at how many different bacteria species live inside of the human mouth. There are 700 known species inside your mouth.

This may sound scary but some of these microorganisms are beneficial to our oral health as they can prevent tooth decay and create saliva, which aids in breaking down food and digestion.

Unfortunately for us, most of the other bacteria species living that can be found inside the mouth are responsible for creating plaque, the same plaque that causes tooth decay in over 91% of adults.

When plaque stays inside your mouth for too long it will eventually harden and build-up into tartar. Tartar will greatly increase your chances of developing tooth decay and gum disease if left untreated. Look at your teeth, if the area where your gums and teeth meet have turned brown or are significantly darker than the rest of your teeth, that’s likely a large build-up of tartar.

This means that you should book an immediate appointment with your dentist. In the meantime, there are several oral health techniques that can help you cut down plaque and stop tartar from forming. In this article, we will go over how to get rid of plaque and prevent further tartar from ever building up on your teeth.

Tartar Vs Plaque: What’s the Difference

It is important to understand that both plaque and tartar can cause tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral health problems. While tartar is hardened plaque, not all plaque actually becomes tartar.

Why Plaque Forms

Dental plaque is the thin, white, sticky substance that forms on the surface of your teeth. Every time you eat carbohydrates, you are also feeding the bacteria inside your mouth.

Carbohydrates are energy sources for bacteria to grow. While carbs are good for our overall health and give us energy for our day, they also supply energy to bacteria inside our bodies. Carbs can be found in almost every food, which means plaque can start forming after every meal.

The bacteria inside your mouth get to eat the carbohydrates as they pass through your mouth and the bacteria then excretes acid to break down the food and remove its own waste. When these acids mix with your saliva, they can stick to your teeth and result in plaque. The plaque itself can contain up to 1000 different bacterial species. 

You likely won’t notice dental plaque right away but once it stays on your teeth for longer than 12 hours it will start to become visible. The longer plaque remains on your teeth, the more acids they will create. When this acid doesn’t mix with saliva or get washed down with water, it sinks into your teeth and wears away tooth enamel, resulting in cracks, and tooth decay. 

When Does Plaque Become Tartar

The longer plaque stays inside your mouth, the more time it has to turn into tartar, hardened plaque. Tartar usually forms along the gum line at the base of each tooth.

If the area around your gum line has turned yellow or brown, this is an indicator that you have built up a lot of plaque, which will soon, if it hasn’t already, turn into tartar.

How Oral Hygiene Can Keep Plaque At Bay

Plaque removal is the key to preventing tartar. The plaque will always be present in your mouth, but tartar can be prevented. Using these oral hygiene techniques you can greatly cut down the amount of plaque inside your mouth. 

Flossing Your Teeth

Brushing your teeth can get rid of surface-level plaque, but the bristles on your toothbrush can’t reach the narrow areas between your teeth. Flossing can get rid of plaque and leftover foods from the areas between your teeth that a toothbrush wouldn’t be able to reach. Most people forget or neglect to regularly floss their teeth, which is why plaque can easily build up between them. 

Research has shown that it is better to floss before you brush your teeth. This will loosen plaque between your teeth first, and make sure that it is removed when your teeth meet your toothbrush.

Brush Your Teeth Long

Most people do not brush their teeth long enough to remove enough plaque to prevent tartar buildup. On average people brush their teeth for 45-seconds, while brushing your teeth for a minimum of 2 minutes is proven to remove 25% more plaque from your teeth. 

After you floss your teeth, don’t rush to finish brushing your teeth, make sure that you spend at least 2 minutes gently removing plaque from your teeth and gum line. The more plaque you can remove, the less likely you will be to develop tartar. 

Foods For Plaque Removal

Vegetables are great for our bodies. Celery in particular is a great choice for stronger teeth and healthy gums. Celery’s texture helps remove leftover food, and scrubs away plaque that gets left behind on your teeth after a meal. 

Plus celery is a vitamin powerhouse for vitamin A, vitamin C, and contains essential minerals like folate and potassium.

Other foods that can help remove plaque from your teeth are apples, potatoes, and fiber-rich foods that can protect the layer of enamel on your teeth. Fiber strengthens the layer of enamel that coats and protects your teeth.

When to Visit Your Dentist For Tartar Removal

In general, you should visit your dentist twice a year, or every 6 months. If you have a lot of tartar buildup, it would be wise to see your dentist as soon as possible. This way your dentist can thoroughly remove excess plaque and the existing tartar from your teeth while giving you bonus information to prevent future tartar from developing.

During your dental cleaning, it is more than likely that your dentist will use a tool called a scaler. This tool looks like a cycle or a hook and the metal end is what scrapes away plaque and tartar from your teeth.

Tartar buildup can irritate your gums and cause pain and bleeding. In this case, your gums will be very sensitive and your dentist will do everything they can to make sure tartar is removed with as little pain as possible. 

Once the tartar is removed from your teeth, your dentist will then brush and polish your teeth to get rid of plaque and strengthen your teeth. 

Keep Your Teeth and Ditch The Tartar

Plaque and tartar build-up are the 2 most common causes of tooth decay in adults and are the most common cause of periodontal disease. Getting rid of them as soon as possible will protect your teeth, which will also benefit your overall health, letting fewer germs and bacteria into your body.

Feel free to look around our website to learn more about how you can prevent plaque buildup and keep your teeth shining white.