Last Updated on July 10, 2023 by Beth Skwarecki
Maintaining good oral hygiene is crucial for overall health and well-being. Tartar, also known as dental calculus, is a hardened plaque that can lead to oral health problems like gum disease and tooth decay. While it is essential to visit a dentist for professional cleaning, there are also home remedies and methods to remove tartar without visiting a dentist.
The article discusses the difference between tartar and plaque, the risk factors contributing to tartar buildup, and the importance of prevention. Home remedies like baking soda paste and oil pulling can aid in tartar removal, while proper brushing and flossing techniques and lifestyle modifications can prevent tartar formation. By incorporating these strategies into your oral care routine, you can take proactive steps to maintain a healthy smile and avoid the detrimental effects of tartar on your teeth and gums.
What is Tartar?
Tartar, or dental calculus, is a hard, yellowish, or brownish deposit that forms on the teeth. It is a mineralized form of dental plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on the teeth. Tartar develops when plaque is not adequately removed through oral hygiene practices such as brushing and flossing.
When plaque remains on the teeth, it can mineralize and harden over time, turning into tartar. Unlike plaque, which can be easily removed with regular brushing and flossing, tartar is much more difficult to remove without professional dental intervention.
Tartar buildup typically occurs near the gumline and between the teeth, but it can also form on the surfaces of the teeth. It creates a rough surface that promotes further plaque accumulation, increasing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
Risk Factors for Tartar Buildup
Several factors contribute to the formation and buildup of tartar on teeth. Understanding these risk factors can help individuals take proactive measures to prevent tartar accumulation. Here are some common risk factors:
- Poor oral hygiene: Inadequate brushing and flossing habits allow plaque to remain on the teeth, leading to tartar formation over time.
- Diet and lifestyle choices: Consuming a diet high in sugar, carbohydrates, and acidic foods/drinks promotes plaque formation and increases the likelihood of tartar buildup. Also, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption contribute to oral health problems, including tartar formation.
- Genetics and age: Some individuals may have a genetic predisposition to develop more tartar than others. Age is also a factor, as tartar buildup tends to increase due to the cumulative effects of plaque accumulation over time.
- Irregular dental visits: Skipping or neglecting routine dental check-ups and cleanings allows plaque to progress into tartar, as professional dental cleaning is necessary to remove stubborn tartar deposits.
- Dry mouth: Having a dry mouth (xerostomia) reduces the production of saliva, which plays a vital role in rinsing away bacteria and food particles. This can contribute to increased plaque and tartar formation.
- Dental misalignment: Crooked or crowded teeth can make it challenging to clean all areas effectively, leading to plaque accumulation and tartar formation.
- Certain medical conditions: Some systemic diseases, such as diabetes and immune disorders, can affect oral health and increase the risk of tartar buildup.
How Does Tartar Impact Your Oral Health
Tartar can have significant negative impacts on your oral health. Here are some ways in which tartar can affect your oral health:
- Gum disease (Gingivitis and Periodontitis): Tartar buildup along the gumline provides a rough surface where bacteria can thrive. The bacteria irritate the gums, leading to inflammation and gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease. If left untreated, tartar can progress to periodontitis, a more severe form of gum disease that can cause gum recession, bone loss, and even tooth loss.
- Bad breath (Halitosis): The accumulation of tartar and bacteria on the teeth and along the gumline can contribute to persistent bad breath. The bacteria release volatile sulfur compounds, resulting in an unpleasant odor.
- Tooth decay (Cavities): Tartar buildup creates a conducive environment for bacteria to produce acids that attack tooth enamel, leading to tooth decay. The rough surface of tartar also makes it harder to clean the teeth effectively, further increasing the risk of cavities.
- Stained and discolored teeth: Tartar is often yellow or brownish, making the teeth appear stained and discolored. It can be particularly noticeable if tartar accumulates on the front teeth.
- Sensitivity: Tartar buildup can contribute to tooth sensitivity, as the exposed roots and compromised enamel make the teeth more susceptible to temperature changes and certain foods.
- Difficulty cleaning teeth: Tartar creates a rough and hard surface on the teeth, making it challenging to remove plaque through regular brushing and flossing. This can lead to a vicious cycle of increased plaque accumulation and further tartar formation.
How to Remove Tartar from Teeth Without a Dentist
While it is recommended to visit a dentist for professional tartar removal, there are some home remedies that may help to reduce tartar buildup between dental visits. Here are five home remedies that can assist in tartar removal:
- Baking Soda: Baking soda has natural cleansing properties and can help remove tartar. Create a paste by mixing a teaspoon of baking soda with enough water to form a paste. Use a toothbrush to apply the paste to your teeth and gently brush for about two minutes. Rinse thoroughly with water. However, it’s essential not to overuse baking soda as it can be abrasive and may damage tooth enamel if used excessively.
- Oil Pulling: Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic practice that involves swishing oil in your mouth to help remove bacteria and plaque. Coconut oil is commonly used for this purpose. Take a tablespoon of coconut oil and swish it around your mouth for 15-20 minutes. Spit it out and rinse your mouth with warm water. Practice oil pulling regularly, preferably in the morning, before brushing your teeth.
- Hydrogen Peroxide: Hydrogen peroxide can help reduce tartar and kill bacteria in your mouth. Mix equal parts of 3% hydrogen peroxide and water. Swish the solution in your mouth for one minute and then spit it out. Rinse your mouth thoroughly with water afterward. It’s important to dilute hydrogen peroxide before using it and not to swallow it.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: Apple cider vinegar has acidic properties that help break down tartar. Dilute apple cider vinegar with an equal amount of water. Swish the solution in your mouth for a few minutes, focusing on the areas with tartar buildup. Spit it out and rinse your mouth thoroughly with water afterward. However, be cautious when using vinegar as its acidic nature may erode tooth enamel if used excessively or without dilution.
- Aloe vera gel: Apply a small amount of aloe vera gel to your toothbrush and gently brush your teeth. Aloe vera has antimicrobial properties that may help reduce bacterial growth in the mouth.
- Saltwater rinses: Dissolve half a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water and swish it in your mouth for 30 seconds to a minute. Saltwater rinses can help reduce bacteria in the mouth and promote gum health.
- Chewing on crunchy fruits and vegetables: Eating crunchy fruits and vegetables like apples, carrots, and celery can stimulate saliva production, which helps wash away plaque and tartar-causing bacteria.
- Green Tea: Green tea contains antioxidants that can help fight plaque and reduce tartar buildup. Brew a cup of green tea and let it cool down. Use it as a mouthwash and swish it around your mouth for a minute or two before spitting it out. Rinse your mouth with water afterward. Regularly drinking green tea can also contribute to overall oral health.
Remember, these home remedies are not a substitute for professional dental care. It’s still crucial to visit a dentist regularly for cleanings and check-ups to ensure optimal oral health.
Prevention of Tartar Formation
Preventing tartar formation is vital to maintaining optimal oral health. Here are some effective strategies to help prevent tartar buildup:
- Maintain a consistent oral hygiene routine: Brush your teeth at least twice daily using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Be thorough and spend at least two minutes brushing, covering all tooth surfaces along the gum line and the back teeth. Don’t forget to brush your tongue as well. Regular flossing and interdental cleaning are equally important to remove plaque and food particles between teeth.
- Use mouthwash and antiseptic rinses: Incorporate an antiseptic mouthwash into your oral care routine. Mouthwashes containing fluoride or antimicrobial agents can help reduce plaque formation and bacterial growth. Consult with your dentist to choose the most suitable mouthwash for your needs.
- Maintain a healthy diet: Limit consumption of sugary and starchy foods as they contribute to plaque formation. Instead, choose a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. These choices can help promote good oral health and prevent tartar buildup.
- Avoid tobacco and staining foods/drinks: Tobacco use, whether smoking or chewing, can increase tartar formation. Certain foods and beverages, such as coffee, tea, and red wine, can stain teeth and contribute to tartar buildup. Limit your intake of these substances, or rinse your mouth with water after consuming them.
- Regular dental check-ups and cleanings: Schedule routine dental visits every six months or as your dentist recommends. Professional dental cleanings are essential for removing tartar that cannot be eliminated through regular brushing and flossing. Dental professionals have the necessary tools and expertise to thoroughly clean your teeth and gums, helping to prevent tartar buildup and detect any oral health issues early on.
Tartar buildup on teeth poses significant risks to oral health, including gum disease, tooth decay, and bad breath. To prevent and reduce tartar formation, individuals can practice good oral hygiene habits like brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash. Natural remedies like baking soda paste, oil pulling, and aloe vera gel may also help reduce tartar.
However, these home remedies should be used with professional dental care, not as standalone solutions. Regular dental check-ups are essential for monitoring oral health, receiving thorough cleanings, and addressing tartar buildup issues. A comprehensive approach combining oral care practices, healthy lifestyle choices, and professional dental care can maintain optimal oral hygiene, prevent tartar formation, and enjoy a healthier, brighter smile.
Beth is Cloudmineinc’s senior health editor and a certified personal trainer. She has over 10 years experience as a science journalist and is the author of two books. She deadlifts over 315 lbs.