If you keep up with regular dental appointments and check-ups, you are likely to have experienced the professional dental clean. This is like the car wash service of dentistry. It is designed to smooth over those rough edges, spruce up the oral interior, and leave your mouth sparkling and feeling healthy. One of the quickest and easiest ways to do this is to remove plaque and tartar.
This can be a very strange experience, because the dentist moves in close and uses a special scraping instrument to, literally, force the plaque from the teeth. They tend to focus particularly hard on areas where the tarter has begun to form calcified spots. These can be seen a little white or yellow marks on the outer surface of the enamel.
They are quite unsightly and can spoil a lovely smile, so cleaning is a really useful thing for patients. It cannot, of course, be a substitute for regular brushing and flossing. If you want your teeth to stay healthy (and in your mouth), you need to clean properly, avoid eating too much sugar, and be on friendly terms with your local dental specialist.
How to Recognise Plaque and Tartar
The terms ‘plaque’ and ‘tartar’ are commonly used in an interchangeable fashion. And, as they are very similar, this is not usually a problem. They are different things, however; plaque is the actual bacteria that causes decay and cavities. The tartar on your teeth is an accumulation of stains, saliva, food, dirt, and grime. It makes it easier for the plaque to take a hold of teeth.
It is tartar that you can see on the outside of teeth, in the form of yellow or white patches. It is usually removed by a dentist, because it is quite tough and sticks fast to enamel. If left untreated, tarter build ups can lead to bad breath and a general staining of the teeth. The enamel will take on a yellow colour and the patient may grow self-conscious very quickly. The good news is that a simple trip to the dentist can fix the problem.
Understanding Why Tartar Needs to Be Removed
Plaque and tartar both contribute to the development of decay and cavities. As tartar is porous, the plaque can build up inside and around it. It then calcifies around the plaque and bacteria. This traps all of the nasty stuff close to tooth enamel, where it can feast on and wear away teeth with harmful acids.
It is important to have tartar removed, because it greatly increases the risk of decay and gum disease. If left untreated, chronic gingivitis and degenerative tooth loss may be the outcome. For patients with underlying health conditions, the consequences can be extremely serious. Dental scientists now know that poor oral health can contribute to the development of things like diabetes and coronary disease.
Getting Rid of Plaque and Tartar at Home
While home remedies should never be used as a substitute for proper dental treatment, there are some methods that have proved very effective. The following section will outline some of these methods in more detail.
Careful and Sustained Brushing
There are no surprises here; brushing is the number one treatment for plaque prevention. If you brush properly after every meal (wait half an hour after eating), you can significantly reduce your chance of developing unsightly tartar patches. You need to be brushing for three minutes, with an even amount of pressure, and covering every part of your mouth.
Using Fluoridated Toothpaste
There is a very good reason why commercial toothpaste recipes almost always contain fluoride. This substance strengthens the tooth enamel and lessens the risk of decay from acidic foods and drinks. In fact, it actually helps decayed teeth to heal and regenerate. The only problem is that this process occurs too slowly for brushing alone to prevent cavities. You also need to eat a healthy diet and steer clear of sugary snacks.
Buying Tartar Control Toothpaste
If you are prone to developing tartar patches or are worried about plaque, pick up a tartar control toothpaste variety. They contain a concoction of ingredients designed to battle against crusty build ups in the mouth. In some cases, they also contain triclosan. This is an antibiotic substance that can kill off a number of bacteria strains.
Cleaning with Baking Soda
For many years, people have been using baking soda as a cleaning substance for teeth. It is slightly abrasive so it pries and files nasty stuff from the surface of enamel. All you need to do is take (only) one tablespoon of baking soda. Add a pinch of salt. Then, dampen a toothbrush and dip it into the mixture. Clean your teeth as you usually would and rinse thoroughly.
Mixing Aloe Vera and Glycerine
The benefits of aloe vera gel have been praised for decades, but did you know that it can also be used to keep teeth free from plaque? Take a cup of water, combine it with half a cup of baking soda, and a teaspoon of aloe vera gel. Then, add a healthy dose of lemon essential oil and four teaspoons of a vegetable glycerine. Now, scrub your teeth with the formula and wake up to a shiny set of gnashers in the morning.
Rubbing the Teeth with Orange Peel
If you don’t fancy rubbing vegetable glycerine on your teeth, you might prefer something a little simpler. You can rub orange peel directly onto your teeth and this will help to fight tartar building microorganisms on the enamel. You can also mash up the peel (though this may take some time) and apply it to the stained areas. Leave to rest and then rinse. You should find that this noticeably whitens the teeth.
Eating Lots of Fruit and Vegetables
This is an all-round great tip, not just one for keeping your teeth healthy. Whether you like them or not, vegetables are a super ingredient. They are great for physical health and the teeth are no exception. Start munching on apples, celery sticks, carrots, and peppers to get your teeth looking strong and healthy in no time.
Munching on Sesame Seeds
The humble sesame seed can be used as an active dental scrub. It will gently remove plaque and tartar, without damaging teeth. To achieve this, just pop a handful of sesame seeds into your mouth. Chew them up, but do not swallow them. Take an old toothbrush (dry) and brush your teeth while the seeds are still in your mouth. They will act as a scrub and delicately scour the surface of stained teeth.
Enjoying Plenty of Figs
You would be surprised at how many natural home remedies there are for plaque removal. For example, did you know figs are great at fighting bacteria and other nasties on teeth? You just have to eat a handful (three or four) figs all at the same time. Chew them up slowly and deliberately, to give them as much exposure to the gums and teeth as possible. The chewing will kickstart the salivary glands and, as saliva contains antibacterial properties, this is only ever a bad thing for plaque and tartar accumulations.
Switching to an Electric Brush
There is much debate about whether electric is always better when it comes to brushing. For the most part, it is down to personal choice. However, studies have shown, time and again, that electric brushes are more efficient at removing built up material on teeth.