Have you noticed hard deposits growing off your teeth? Do you have strangely shaped extrusions developing from around your teeth? If so, then you may be experiencing tartar buildup.

Tartar buildup is dangerous to your oral health. It promotes periodontal disease, which will lead to bone loss in your jaws and tooth loss. Here’s how to prevent tartar buildup and what can be done to prevent it.

What Is Tartar?

Periogen_Tartar_Dissolution_Study,_day_0Bacteria are living things who are trying very hard to survive in the hostile environment of your mouth. Many things are toxic to them, including fluoride in toothpaste and your natural saliva. To protect themselves, they bond together in colonies and form a gooey film that we call plaque. This plaque can protect them from many things, but it can still be removed with your toothbrush or dental floss.

However, if left in your mouth too long, plaque can absorb minerals from your saliva, becoming calcified into a hard mineral deposit that can’t be removed with your toothbrush or dental floss. This hard mineral deposit is called tartar or sometimes dental calculus.

Preventing Tartar Buildup

Because tartar is just hardened plaque, the best way to prevent tartar buildup is to practice quality oral hygiene. Brush your teeth twice a day, floss every day, and rinse your mouth after sugary drinks or snacks. Flossing your teeth is especially important because it’s really the only way to remove plaque down around the gum line where tartar buildups begin.

Bacteria on your tongue can also be a problem. If you have a white, filmy coating on your tongue, make sure to clean it. Also, you should try cleaning your tongue if you notice that you get very rapid buildups of tartar on the insides of your teeth near the tongue.

Routine dental checkups will allow us to remove tartar buildup, often before it is large enough to notice.

Do You Have Tartar Shelves?

How can you tell if you are starting to experience tartar buildup?

Tartar buildup begins on your teeth and grows outward. You can check for the initial signs of tartar buildup by examining your teeth closely in the mirror after brushing. Does it look like you still have deposits of plaque right along the gum line? If so, then get out your toothbrush or a soft toothpick or gum cleaner and try to remove it. If it doesn’t come off, it’s tartar.

Are you noticing that the spaces between your teeth are seeming to narrow, making it harder for you to floss? This is likely tartar buildup starting to grow between your teeth.

Finally, feel along the gumline at the back of your teeth with your tongue. If you feel odd protrusions or shelves there, that’s likely tartar.

Tartar shelves in patient before surgery to remove the build-up

Tartar shelf in actual patient of Dr. Adam Hahn

Removing Tartar

As we noted above, tartar is hard and won’t be removed by brushing or flossing. We can remove it in our office. Our hygienists have training and tools that allow them to remove buildups without damaging your teeth.

Don’t try to remove tartar at home, especially by scraping your teeth with hard metal objects. This can result in damage to your teeth.

Do you have tartar buildup? Or do you suspect it? Don’t let it build up further and damage your oral health. Please contact Smile Columbia Dentistry or call (803) 781-9090 in Columbia, SC today for an appointment.