What is tartar buildup anyway?
With improper dental hygiene, a film of bacteria will soon come to cover the surface of your teeth: this is called dental plaque. Dental tartar is formed from dental plaque hardened by mineral buildup: the film of bacteria on your teeth plus minerals from your saliva turn into a half mineral and half organic formation (fossilized bacteria). This additional mineral buildup doesn’t have the smooth texture of your natural teeth, being rather rough and thus encouraging further plaque formation. Tartar buildup on your teeth or underneath your gumline looks like, feels like, and ultimately is a stone, just like kidney stones.
Can I brush it off if I brush really hard?
When dental plaque attached to your teeth becomes hard, your toothbrush will no longer be able to help. It’s highly advised that you keep brushing your teeth to prevent further plaque buildup. However, it is impossible to get rid of it without the help of a dental professional such as a dental hygienist or a dentist. To find out more about scaling and root planing procedures, read this.
If it’s just minerals, I don’t see how it could be harmful to my teeth. Why should I get rid of tartar?
First of all, dental tartar isn’t just minerals: it consists of minerals and bacteria. And it looks awful on your teeth. Dental tartar is bad for your teeth and gums! It can irritate your soft gum tissue, cause periodontal disease, develop pockets of pus along your gumline, and eventually lead to bone loss. When dental calculus forms above your gumline, on the surface of your teeth, it impedes enamel mineralization and, as a result, it may cause tooth demineralization and incipient cavity formation underneath the hard tartar buildup. You need to have it removed a.s.a.p.
Do I have tartar buildup?
Dental tartar is visible. It commonly features a yellowish or brown color. If you are not sure, go see your dentist anyway.
Is there a way to prevent tartar buildup?
With proper dental hygiene there will be less plaque and thus, less tartar buildup. Coffee consumption and smoking, as well as diabetes can significantly increase the risk of tartar buildup. If your daily routine and / or oral health particularities encourage calculus buildup, you may need to consider scheduling scaling sessions at the dental office on a regular basis. Please consult your dentist or oral hygienist regarding the recommended scaling schedule for your condition.