Tartar teeth, also known as dental calculus is a form of hardened plaque. It is caused due to continuous accumulation of minerals from saliva on plaque on the teeth. Its rough surface provides an ideal medium for further plaque formation, damaging the health of the gums.
Why is Tartar Teeth a Concern?
There may be bacteria present in the mouth even though you practice good oral hygiene. These bacteria, along with food substances from a slimy film called plaque. This plaque forms a coat on the teeth and is most prevalent in areas behind the teeth.
Every time you eat or drink something, these bacteria produce acids which damage the enamel and therefore lead to cavities. The acids even cause gum inflammation and infection. However, when you remove plaque regularly by good oral hygiene methods, there is a way to prevent teeth conditions leading to permanent decaying of teeth.
Major consequences arise when plaque is allowed to remain on the teeth. This plaque hardens to form tartar or calculus. As tartar is mineralized onto your teeth, it is far difficult to remove than plaque.
Effect of Tartar on Teeth and Gums
Once tartar builds up on the teeth, it is very difficult to brush and floss efficiently. In this case, the acids produced by the bacteria in the mouth are more likely to damage the tooth enamel. This leads to caries and tooth decay. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), it is estimated that more than 90% of adults above the age 40 have some form of tooth decay.
Tartar that forms on the gum line is very serious. This is because the bacteria it nurtures may irritate and destroy gums. As the conditions progresses, it leads to gum disease. Gum disease can cause serious complications if left untreated. According to the CDC, nearly 5% – 11% of adult population suffers from gum disease.
The mild form of gum disease is gingivitis. This is the initial stage which is caused by plaque and tartar on teeth. This can be reversed and stopped by practicing oral hygiene habits.
If gingivitis is left untreated, it progresses into a severe form of gum disease. This severe form is known as periodontitis. This severe condition forms pockets in between the teeth and gums. These pockets are infected by the bacteria present under the gums. The body’s immune system then releases chemicals to combat the bacteria. These chemical substances merge with substances released by the bacteria and damage the bone and tissues that hold the teeth in position. Research studies even showed that the bacteria responsible for gum disease can cause heart disease as well as other disease conditions.
Care / Prevention of Tartar Teeth
The best way to control serious consequences of tartar on teeth are to prevent tartar teeth formation.
Brush properly – Use a soft bristled brush to reach all the spaces in your mouth. Make sure to brush the hard surfaces back of your teeth and the rear molars.
Electronic Toothbrushes – Research has shown that powered, electronic toothbrushes are more effective than the manual ones for removing plaque and tartar. Make sure that the toothbrush has the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval while buying.
Fluoride toothpastes – Fluoride containing toothpastes help in preventing the plaque from turning to tartar. The fluoride will repair the damage in the enamel and even helps in fighting the bacteria in the plaque.
Floss and floss – No matter how well you brush your teeth, flossing can only help in removing the plaque between the teeth. It even prevents tartar formation in areas where bristles cannot reach.
Maintain a balanced diet –Limit the consumption of sugary foods. When you take starchier and sugary foods, the bacteria in the mouth may act on these substances therefore releasing acids. You don’t need to forgo sweets and snacks, all you need is to just be mindful how well and often you clean your teeth. Drink lots of water after meals so as to minimize plaque buildup.
Avoid smoking – Research has shown that people who smoke and use tobacco products are more likely to have tartar buildup on the teeth and gums.