How to Prevent Plaque and Tartar Buildup

By Dr. James Forester | Mar 8, 2022 | General Oral Care
Plaque and Tartar

Plaque is the sticky film that coats the teeth and contains bacteria. Plaque is constantly being produced, but a buildup of plaque can result in dental issues. It is important to remove excess plaque while it is newly formed and soft.

When plaque becomes hard, it results in a yellow or brown colored deposit called tartar. Unfortunately, once tartar forms, it produces stains that can only be removed professionally.

So that leads us to the following questions:

  • how does plaque and tartar build-up happen?
  • what problems do plaque and tartar create?
  • how can plaque and tartar be removed?
  • how can plaque and tartar be prevented?

And maybe you have some questions of your own! So let’s get started with some answers…

What is plaque? What is tartar?

Plaque and tartar are produced by a combination of saliva, food, and fluids in the mouth.

Certain foods produce more plaque formation and encourage bacteria to collect on teeth. These foods include ones high in carbs, sucrose, and starches.

This is one of the main reasons our dentist is a stickler for limiting sugary food and sugary drinks. Excess sugar is just not good for your dental health!

Some specific foods to consider consuming in moderation or eliminate from your diet entirely (with your doctor’s approval, of course) include:

  • Milk
  • Soda
  • Cake
  • Candy
  • Sugary beverages

If you’re going to consume those food items and beverages, be sure to brush your teeth immediately after.

Is plaque bad? Is tartar bad?

Plaque is naturally produced when we consume food. However, it is important to limit the amount that builds up in order to prevent dental problems and other health problems.

Because plaque allows bacteria to live in it, it can lead to conditions such as cavities, gingivitis, bad breath, and annoying stains. So it’s best to remove plaque and tartar before they build up on your teeth.

How to remove plaque from your teeth

In order to properly remove plaque, establish a consistent oral routine.

Brushing mechanically for a few minutes and flossing well, as well as making use of a mouthwash to remove further bacteria are great places to start.

You can make good use of the alphabet song in order to track your time brushing (kids especially love this!). Using an electric toothbrush with replaceable brush heads cleans even better. Of course even an electronic toothbrush must be paired with a good floss routine and mouthwash.

It is important to maintain a routine in which you are brushing twice a day for 2 minutes, every day of the week. Anti-plaque specified toothpastes with fluoride are also a great way to remove plaque.

If you have questions regarding the type of toothpaste, floss or mouthwash to use, ask your hygienist or dentist during your next appointment.

How to remove tartar from your teeth

Tartar removal is unfortunately much harder. Since it is hard and strongly bonded to the enamel of the tooth, it is only removable by a dental hygienist or dentist.

Fortunately, there are many types of procedures that remove it well, but it is always best to stay ahead and be proactive. This will save you lots of time and money in the long run.

How can you prevent plaque and tartar? What are some signs of plaque and tartar buildup?

Tartar is colored and typically very easy to notice. However, plaque is usually a pale yellow color or sometimes colorless. This can definitely make it a little harder to spot.

While plaque is a natural part of life, removing it before it becomes tartar is essential to great dental health.

And if you have kids, make sure to teach them great oral care habits when they’re young. Be sure to teach them how to properly brush and floss their teeth (and don’t forget routine dental cleanings and checkups from our hygienists and dentist).

Keep brushing and flossing and indulge in some new raw fruits and veggies. Dental health is important for life and you want your smile looking pretty, too!

If you live in the Johns Creek, GA area and need to schedule your next dental appointment, call Lifetime Smiles. We are accepting new patients and would love to meet you!