Tartar (also known as dental calculus) occurs on the teeth when plaque has been left to build up and it begins to calcify. Not only does tartar look unpleasant, but it can cause serious long-term damage to teeth and gums.
Having regular check-ups at the dentist is the best way to remove or prevent plaque and tartar. But if you want to remove tartar and plaque from your teeth without a trip to the dentist, this article will explain how.
The best way to remove the build-up of plaque and tartar on your teeth is by brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Daily flossing and using an antiseptic mouthwash will help to keep bacteria at bay in hard-to-reach areas. Natural remedies, such as brushing with baking soda or gargling with vinegar and water can also help.
On this page, you’ll find out tips for removing plaque build-up and preventing tartar without a dentist.
5 Steps to cleaning your own teeth like a dental hygienist!
The most important thing you can do for your oral health is to clean your teeth twice daily and visit your dentist regularly. But, if you can’t see a dentist, or if you want to keep your teeth in top condition in between appointments, these tips below will leave your teeth feeling sparkly clean.
- Thoroughly clean your teeth with an electric toothbrush
Choose an electric toothbrush with a small circular brush so you can easily clean each tooth individually and reach the gaps in between. According to a 2015 study, although both manual and electric toothbrushes can remove plaque, “the use of power toothbrushes, especially counter-rotational and oscillating–rotating brushes, can be beneficial in reducing the levels of gingival bleeding or inflammation.”
- Use a fluoride toothpaste
Fluoride helps to prevent tooth decay by strengthening tooth enamel against acid, which can decay teeth. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that has been proven in several studies to effectively control dental cavities. Toothpastes can contain different levels of fluoride; adults and children over three should use toothpaste containing 1,350-1,500ppm fluoride. For children, use toothpaste specially manufactured for their age to ensure they have the right levels of fluoride. If you’re unsure of which toothpaste is best for you and your family, speak to a dentist.
- Brush your teeth for at least two minutes (ideally three!)
Brushing teeth for two minutes is well-known advice. But did you know, many people typically only brush their teeth for 45 seconds! The amount of plaque removed increases with brushing time. According to one study, brushing for three minutes removed 55% more plaque than brushing for 30 seconds.
- Use dental floss and interdental brushes regularly
Several studies have found that “flossing plus toothbrushing reduced mild gum disease, or gingivitis, significantly better than toothbrushing alone.”
Most people know that flossing helps clean the harder to reach places between the teeth, but interdental brushes take cleaning a step further. Interdental brushes look like tiny mascara brushes, and they’re used to gently clean between the teeth and gums.
- Use antibacterial mouthwash regularly
Antibacterial mouthwash has many benefits: it can freshen up your breath, reduce plaque build-up, loosen any stubborn food particles, and reduce the risk of cavities. Using mouthwash straight after brushing can remove beneficial fluoride from your teeth, so use it to freshen up your mouth during the day, such as after eating a snack or lunch.
Following the above five steps will mean your teeth stay super clean and healthy in between check-ups at the dentist.
It’s important to note that it’s best to avoid using some tartar removal products at home, such as tartar scrapers. Dentists train for years to develop the skills needed to use dental equipment like tartar scrapers safely, using one yourself could cause several issues including infection or mouth injuries.
Natural Ways To Remove Tartar Build-Up At Home
There are many natural ways for removing plaque build-up, which can lead to tartar forming, and most of them involve using items you probably already have at home. Just a word of warning, these natural remedies may be good for your teeth, but they don’t taste very nice!
- White vinegar and water
Vinegar has a super strong taste and may not be the nicest thing to gargle, but white vinegar is anti-bacterial which means it can help prevent plaque and tartar. All you need to do is add two teaspoons of white vinegar and half a teaspoon of salt to a small glass of water, stir it, and then rinse your mouth with it up to two times a day.
- Baking soda
Baking soda can help your teeth look whiter, as well as neutralizing cavity causing acid. Some toothpastes contain baking soda as it acts as a gentle abrasive to remove plaque from teeth. Make a paste by stirring a few drops of water with half a teaspoon of baking soda. Apply the paste to your teeth using your toothbrush and brush your teeth gently with the paste for one minute, then rinse well with water.
- Aloe vera
Aloe vera is a small shrub with several incredible health benefits, including being good for your teeth. Mix a teaspoon of aloe vera gel with four teaspoons of glycerine (an ingredient found in many toothpastes), five tablespoons of baking soda, a drop of lemon essential oil, and a cup of water. Once mixed, use the mixture to clean your teeth to gradually remove plaque and tartar.
Ways to prevent tartar and plaque from building up
The best way to prevent tartar and plaque from building up is with the correct dental hygiene routine, as above, as well as regular visits to the dentist. But diet also plays a big part in keeping tartar and plaque at bay.
Reducing the amount of sugar and starch in your diet is the best way to prevent plaque. Bacteria in the mouth love sugary and starchy foods and when that bacteria feed on these foods it creates the familiar fuzzy teeth feeling known as plaque.
Unfortunately, many of the foods bacteria love, we love too! Sticky sweet treats and savoury snacks that can get stuck between your teeth are the worst culprits. But even just cutting down on the following foods or brushing after eating them can help reduce the risk of plaque building up.
- Cakes and pies
- Dried fruit
- Potato chips
- Soft bread
Some drinks can be just as bad for causing plaque to form on your teeth, fizzy drinks, alcohol (as this can dry your mouth out), fruit juices and high carb sports drinks can all contribute to plaque build-up.
You can find out more about what sugar does to your teeth by reading our blog The Effects Of Sugar On Your Teeth And Why It’s Bad For You.
By moderating your intake of plaque forming foods and by maintaining a thorough dental hygiene routine you can reduce the risk of plaque and tartar build-up. But the most important thing you can do for your teeth is to have regular dental check-ups with a trusted dentist. If you don’t have a dentist, read our guide The Most Important Qualities A Great Family Dentist Must Have, to help you find one.
If you live in Howard County or near Ellicott City, MD and you’re worried about plaque and tartar building up on your teeth, book in for a check-up with our friendly team here at Menton Family Dental Care. You can schedule an appointment by calling (410) 740-9400 or by clicking the Get Started button below!