What Causes Tartar on Teeth?

Tartar or Dental calculus or Plaque

Tartar, also known as dental calculus, is a hardened buildup of plaque on the teeth. It is primarily caused by poor dental hygiene and the accumulation of dental plaque. Here’s how tartar forms:

  • Plaque Formation: Plaque is a soft, sticky film of bacteria that forms on the teeth and gums. It develops when bacteria in the mouth combine with saliva and food particles. Plaque is constantly forming on teeth, and it can be easily removed with regular brushing and flossing.
  • Mineralization: Over time, the plaque on your teeth can mineralize or harden due to the presence of minerals in your saliva, particularly calcium and phosphate. This mineralization process, which can take as little as 24 to 72 hours, transforms the soft plaque into a hard substance known as tartar or dental calculus.
  • Inaccessible Areas: Tartar tends to accumulate more in areas that are difficult to reach with a toothbrush and floss. This includes the back surfaces of the teeth, especially near the gumline.

The formation of tartar can have several consequences for oral health:

  • Gum Irritation and Inflammation: Tartar buildup near the gumline can irritate the gums, leading to inflammation and redness. This condition is known as gingivitis and is the earliest stage of gum disease.
  • Gum Disease: If tartar is not removed, it can contribute to the progression of gum disease (periodontitis). Periodontitis can cause gum tissue to pull away from the teeth, forming pockets where bacteria can thrive. It can also lead to bone loss and tooth mobility.
  • Tooth Discoloration: Tartar can also cause teeth to appear yellow or discolored, which can be aesthetically undesirable.

Preventing tartar buildup involves maintaining good oral hygiene practices:

  1. Regular Brushing: Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Pay special attention to brushing along the gumline and the surfaces of your teeth.
  2. Flossing: Floss daily to remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth and along the gumline.
  3. Dental Checkups: Schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings with your dentist. Professional cleanings can remove tartar buildup that cannot be removed with regular brushing and flossing.
  4. Healthy Diet: Limit sugary and starchy foods, which can contribute to plaque formation.
  5. Use Antiseptic Mouthwash: Rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash to help reduce bacteria in the mouth.

If tartar has already formed on your teeth, it can only be removed by a dental professional during a dental cleaning. It’s important to address tartar buildup promptly to maintain good oral health and prevent complications like gum disease.

  • Recent Posts

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Tags