Most likely, you’ve been drilled (pardon the pun) on the health benefits of brushing and flossing your teeth every day, but do you know why it’s so important? Practicing good dental hygiene removes plaque from your teeth. If plaque is not removed, it can harden into a substance called dental tartar, which can cause serious problems for your oral health.
Tartar, also known as dental calculus, is a common problem. One study found that it affects 92% of Americans, putting them at risk for gum disease and tooth decay. Let’s take a closer look at how to protect your teeth and gums.
What Causes Tartar?
The problem begins with plaque, a sticky substance that can range from clear to pale yellow. Plaque is created when the bacteria in your mouth combine with proteins and food particles. These bacteria produce acids that attack your tooth enamel and gums, creating cavities and other oral health issues.
If plaque is not removed, it can combine with minerals from your saliva to create tartar. It can take as little as 24 hours for this to happen. Dental tartar builds up both above and below your gum line. The bacteria it contains can cause irritation and damage to your gums.
Effects of Dental Tartar
Untreated dental tartar can lead to gum disease, including:
- Gingivitis: An inflammation of the gums that can cause swelling, bleeding and bad breath. This is usually the first stage of gum disease.
- Periodontitis: A more serious infection that can occur if gingivitis is left untreated. Periodontitis creates pockets of space between gums and teeth that can become infected.
- Tooth loss: Over time, diseased teeth and the connective tissue that holds them in place are destroyed, which leads to tooth loss in adults.
Gum disease isn’t just bad for your teeth. It may also be linked to heart disease, increasing the risk of heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular problems.
Protect Your Oral Health
Once dental tartar forms, you won’t be able to remove it on your own. Because it bonds to the enamel of your teeth, it requires a professional cleaning to remove. Your best bet is to prevent plaque from building up on your teeth and gums, so it won’t be able to form tartar.
The best ways to protect your teeth from plaque are:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day for at least two minutes. Make sure you’re brushing along your gum line, and don’t forget the hard-to-reach places like behind your molars. Use a toothpaste that contains fluoride.
- Floss between your teeth at least twice a day. If flossing is difficult or uncomfortable for you, you may prefer to use a water flosser or dental water jet.
- Avoid sugary sodas and candy. Sugar is a simple carbohydrate, which feeds the bacteria that lead to plaque.
- Visit your dentist for a cleaning at least twice a year. If you’re in a high-risk group for dental problems, your dentist may recommend more frequent visits. People at a higher risk include smokers and people with conditions like chronic dry mouth or diabetes.
- Use an antibacterial mouthwash once a day.
Taking a few simple steps every day can help protect your teeth and gums from serious issues. Talk to your dentist if you have any questions about the best dental practices for your teeth.
World-Class Dental Care At LifeSmiles by Dr. Randy Mitchmore, we help our patients maintain bright and healthy smiles. Whether you need a routine cleaning or dental implant solutions for missing teeth, we’ll walk you through the best options inside an anxiety-free, non-judgmental atmosphere. Our expertise and the latest technology offers options for healthier teeth and gums. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.