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Many people aren’t as accustomed to hearing about the issues of tartar buildup as they are to hearing about plaque, gingivitis, and cavities. But making sure to prevent tartar buildup to the best of your ability is essential to your dental hygiene routine.

Woo Young Lee, DDS is focused on providing you with the best care possible. That’s why here at Grace Dental Group, we remind our patients every day that there are plenty of ways they can take care of their oral health at home. It’s the only way we can successfully ensure the health and well-being of your teeth and gums.

Tartar: what it is and why you need to prevent it

Indeed you’ve probably heard the word tartar in an oral health capacity before. But what does it mean? Well, tartar starts life as plaque, a term many more people are familiar with.

Plaque is when bacteria, bits of food, saliva, and other particles come together to form a thin film on the teeth. If you’re not careful, plaque will harden into tartar. Tartar is also called calculus, which is impossible to remove at home. You can only have tartar removed by a professional dentist.

What’s more, tartar that goes untreated can lead to several problems, including but not limited to periodontal disease, cavities, abscesses, and tooth decay. You can even lose your teeth as a result of untreated tartar buildup.

Preventing tartar buildup

So, you get the idea. Tartar is bad. But how can you prevent tartar from occurring in the first place? Well, the best way to do so is to handle it when it’s still plaque.

1. Brush twice a day — with an electric toothbrush

Plaque will build up throughout the day as you eat, drink, and do your business. This is why it’s so important to brush twice a day and to keep the habit consistent. In addition, electric toothbrushes have been shown to reduce plaque better than their manual counterparts.

2. Floss once a day

Brushing is necessary, but flossing is still crucial for getting those spaces between your teeth that the toothbrush can’t find. If you don’t clean between your teeth, plaque hides and forms tartar, which can seep below the gum line and lead to periodontal disease.

3. Brush and floss the right way

It isn’t just about brushing and flossing consistently but about doing so the right way. If your technique is sloppy, you don’t brush long enough, brush or floss too hard, or make another common mistake, you could be causing more problems. If you’re not sure you’re brushing and flossing the right way, just ask!

4. Use antimicrobial mouthwash

Using mouthwash is highly important to rid the mouth of plaque. But don’t grab any old kind; make sure you use antimicrobial mouthwash. This fights more microbes than just antibacterial mouthwash and will clear away all the various particles that make up plaque (and eventually tartar).

5. Avoid certain foods and habits

Certain habits — such as smoking or chewing your nails — increase the bacteria that is introduced into your mouth daily. Avoiding these behaviors is best for preventing tartar buildup.

Also, sugary foods, sticky snacks, and meals high in carbohydrates tend to introduce more problems with plaque. Eating well-balanced meals and avoiding foods with these traits are great ways to prevent plaque and tartar.

Tell tartar to take a hike!

Remember, even if you take all these tips to heart, you’ll still need to visit your dentist for regular cleanings to keep plaque and tartar at bay.

To make an appointment, call (415) 921-8867 or reach out online. We look forward to seeing you at our San Francisco, CA, office!

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