Most people have heard of tartar, but that doesn't necessarily mean that everyone is aware of exactly what it is and how it's harmful. If you've been told that you have a bad tartar build-up or you just want to avoid having this problem, here's what you should know about having it and getting rid of it.
Tartar is simply one thing: hardened plaque. When you have plaque remain in your mouth for at least 24 hours, it can start to transform into tartar.
Tartar is just like plaque in that it's bad for your teeth, can cause cavities, and can even induce gum disease. However, the problem with it is that it's much harder to get rid of, so tartar can induce more damage over time than plaque can. In fact, once tartar forms, there are only two reliable ways to get rid of it.
The first way to get rid of tartar is through a process called dental scaling. Dental scaling is when you go to the dentist and they bring out that thin metal pick (called a dental scaler) to use between your teeth, on the teeth, and under the gumline.
Tartar is so hard that it has to be broken up and removed like this. Toothbrushes and other dental tools that you have access to at home simply can't do anything about tartar. While they're useful for helping to get rid of plaque before it can become tartar, once it's past that stage, a dentist or dental hygienist needs to help you.
Ultrasonic scaling is another method that dentists can use that's newer and more comfortable for patients. Instead of using a hard metal pick and chipping away at accumulated tartar, ultrasonic scalers break it up with ultrasonic waves. This is done at the same time that your teeth are rinsed with water, so all you're likely to feel is the sensation of water washing over your teeth and gums. Many dentists are starting to phase out using dental scaling as the first method for getting rid of tartar and use ultrasonic scalers to get rid of the majority of it. Then, traditional dental scalers are used if there are any areas that still need a refined touch.
If you don't want tartar, the best thing you can do is to floss and brush twice a day, treat any dry-mouth symptoms that you have, and sip water regularly. This will help to remove plaque before it can harden. However, some tartar development is unavoidable, so plan on seeing your dentist on a regular basis to get it removed.
To learn more, contact a local dentist.