Upon hearing the word tartar, many people think of that creamy sauce that goes on fish and chips.

But in the world of dental care, dental tartar refers to hardened plaque on teeth. To keep your teeth and gums healthy, tartar is something to be avoided, not enjoyed. To learn how to keep tartar buildup from occurring, check out our top preventive dentistry tips to prevent unnecessary dental services.

Tarter Defined

Tartar, also known as calculus, is simply hardened dental plaque, a sticky film that develops when bacteria, proteins and partially digested food combine and accumulate. When not promptly addressed, dental plaque adheres to dental work, above and beneath the gum line and teeth. Bacteria in this rough, porous gunk damages enamel and causes cavities and irritated receding gums.

Prompt attention from your family dentist is critical to stop this from progressing to gum disease.

The good news is that gum disease first appears as gingivitis, which can be treated with consistent brushing, flossing, antiseptic mouthwash and routine cleanings. The bad news is that failure to act can lead to periodontitis. This condition refers to pockets between the teeth and gums, and bacterial infection that can potentially harm tissues and bones that support your teeth.

Despite advances in comfortable dental procedures, routine dental care is the best defense against fillings, scaling, root planing or surgical treatments. So, if you suspect something isn’t right inside your mouth, schedule a dental appointment and read on for more things you can do to avoid tartar buildup.

Here’s your tartar control checklist:
  1. Brush up to prevent tartar from taking hold. It takes two to make a thing go right – by that we mean brush twice a day with a soft-bristled brush, and make sure you brush for a full two minutes each time. Don’t neglect those difficult-to-reach molars at the back of your mouth and behind your teeth – as they are prime spots for sticky plaque buildup.
  2. Invest in an electric toothbrush. Powered toothbrushes make brushing easier for people with braces, dental appliances or dexterity issues. Children and the elderly can benefit from their ease of use. New Look Dental recommends Sonicare for optimal oral hygiene, as it demonstrates optimal safety and efficacy, earning it the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
  3. Select a tartar-control toothpaste with triclosan for bacteria control, and fluoride to help ensure strong, healthy enamel.
  4. Don’t skimp on flossing. Plaque will stay put unless you break out the dental floss. Hate flossing? Get a Waterpik water flosser to keep the spaces between teeth free of debris and plaque.
  5. Choose an antiseptic mouthwash to rinse away and kill the remaining bacteria.
  6. Clean up your diet. Here’s yet another reason to eat healthy foods and watch carb intake. Starches and sugars are fuel for harmful bacteria, which causes them to produce acids that damage teeth and gums. If you can’t resist, drink water and rinse or brush afterward to eliminate these acids.
  7. Put down the tobacco. Tobacco use is proven to increase the likelihood of tartar buildup.

Follow the above and make bi-annual treks to the dental clinic part of your plaque and tartar control plan to help avert issues down the road.