Tartar, or plaque buildup that has hardened on your teeth, can lead to cavities and gum disease. Tartar gives plaque a stickier surface on which to adhere, and because it is porous, allows teeth to stain more easily. If you notice that your teeth appear to be a yellow or brown color above the gum line, you probably have tartar buildup. Fortunately, you can prevent plaque and tartar by …
Brushing your teeth for 2 minutes at least twice daily, and flossing every day. If you have problems with plaque buildup, especially if you smoke or regularly drink coffee, tea or colas, you might want to use a tartar control toothpaste that contains a pyrophosphate to help prevent discoloration of your teeth. Pyrophosphates work to stop the growth of calcium phosphate crystals on the tooth surface.
Taking additional time when brushing your teeth, especially if tartar builds up quickly on your teeth. Be sure to brush near the inside of the lower front teeth and the outside of the upper back teeth. This will increase saliva production and help prevent new tartar from forming. Brushing your teeth also stimulates the gums, which helps to keep them healthy.
Scheduling an appointment to have your teeth cleaned professionally every six months. If tartar buildup becomes more of a problem for you, especially as you age, your dentist might recommend more frequent cleanings.
Seeing your dentist or dental hygienist about removing tartar that already has formed from above and below the gum line. He or she may have to use a scraping instrument to loosen plaque and tartar deposits on the surfaces of the teeth. Once all the plaque and residue have been washed away, your teeth then should be polished to clean and smooth the surfaces to make it harder for plaque to stick.
While plaque is a transparent layer of bacteria that sticks to the teeth, tartar is a mineral that hardens into a crusty surface that only can be removed by a dental professional.
Regular brushing at least twice daily is essential as plaque can begin to form on the teeth within 4 to 12 hours after brushing.