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An Overview of Tartar

(continued)

Tips for Controlling Tartar

The best way to prevent the serious effects of tartar on your teeth is to prevent tartar from forming. Here's how:

  • Brush regularly using the proper technique. A quick, 30-second brushing of teeth morning and night is not enough to remove dental plaque and prevent tartar build-up. Use a brush with soft bristles that is small enough to reach all the areas in your mouth. Be sure to include the hard-to-reach surfaces behind your teeth and on your rear molars.
  • Studies have found that electronic, or powered, toothbrushes may be more effective than manual toothbrushes for plaque removal. Regardless of which type of toothbrush you use, be sure it has the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval. These models have undergone rigorous quality control and safety tests.
  • Opt for tartar-control toothpaste with fluoride. It can help prevent plaque from hardening into tartar. Additionally, the fluoride in the formula will help repair any damage to your enamel that may have already happened. Some formulas also contain triclosan. That's an antibiotic that fights the bacteria in plaque.
  • Floss, floss, floss. No matter how diligent you are about brushing your teeth, only flossing daily can remove the plaque between your teeth and prevent tartar formation in these difficult-to-reach areas.
  • Watch your diet. The bacteria in your mouth thrive on sugary and starchy foods. When they are exposed to those foods, they release damaging acids. Try to eat a healthy diet and limit the amount of sugar-containing foods you eat. Be mindful of snacking, too, since every time you eat you are also feeding the bacteria in your mouth. You don't have to forgo sweets or between-meals munches entirely. Just be mindful about how often you indulge and be diligent about brushing your teeth. Drinking plenty of water during and after meals may also help minimize plaque buildup.
  • Don't smoke. Studies show that people who smoke cigarettes or use other tobacco products are more likely to have tartar on their teeth and under their gums.

Once tartar has formed, it is important to realize that only a dental professional will be able to remove it from your teeth. Make sure to visit your dentist every 6 months to remove any plaque and tartar that might have formed and prevent further complications.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Steve Drescher, DDS on April 14, 2013
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How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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