Plaque and tartar pose a constant threat to your teeth! Unfortunately, many people don’t know how to recognize these two formidable enemies. And yet, to eliminate them properly, it’s essential to understand their characteristics, their causes and the best methods for combating them.
In this article, our Montreal dentists explain what plaque and tartar are and how to get rid of them. Learn how to protect your smile with the right oral hygiene routine.
What is plaque and how does it form?
Dental plaque is a sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on the teeth. It consists mainly of bacteria, food particles and saliva. Every time you eat or drink, food residues are deposited on your teeth. Bacteria in your mouth feed on this residue, releasing acids that attack the protective enamel on your teeth.
Over time, if plaque is not removed effectively, it can harden into tartar. Tartar is a solid, rough substance that accumulates on teeth and along the gum line. Unlike plaque, tartar cannot be removed simply by brushing or flossing at home. The only way to remove tartar is through professional dental cleaning.
Plaque and tartar: consequences and associated problems
Plaque build-up and tartar formation can lead to a variety of oral health problems. Here are some of the most common:
- Tooth decay: Acids produced by plaque bacteria attack tooth enamel, which can lead to tooth decay and cavities.
- Gum disease: Tartar irritates the gums and can lead to gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and, in severe cases, periodontitis (infection of the tissues supporting the teeth).
- Bad breath: Bacteria present in tartar release unpleasant odours that contribute to persistent bad breath.
- Dental aesthetics: Tartar build-up can lead to discoloration of the teeth, which can only be fixed with teeth whitening.
Can you remove plaque in just 5 minutes?
Complete plaque and tartar removal cannot be achieved in just 5 minutes, either at home or at the dentist. Tartar is a solid substance that forms on teeth over time. It requires professional intervention to remove it safely and effectively.
During a professional dental cleaning, the dentist or dental hygienist will use special instruments to scrape and remove tartar from tooth surfaces, including below the gum line. This process can often take more than 30 minutes, depending on the extent of the tartar build-up and the patient’s specific needs.
For more information, consult your dentist.
Natural ways to remove plaque
Now that you’ve understood what plaque and tartar are, and the consequences of plaque and tartar build-up, let’s take a look at effective natural methods for eliminating plaque and preventing related oral health problems.
1. Proper brushing techniques
Regular tooth brushing is one of the pillars of good oral hygiene. Here are a few tips for effective brushing:
- Choose a toothbrush with soft, rounded bristles to avoid damaging tooth enamel and gums.
- Apply a small amount of toothpaste that contains fluoride to the toothbrush.
- Adopt a gentle brushing method, using circular movements or the Bass technique, which involves tilting the brush bristles at a 45-degree angle towards the gum line and making small, vibrating movements.
- Be sure to brush all sides of your teeth, including the outside, inside and chewing surfaces.
- Don’t forget to brush your tongue to remove the bacteria that cause bad breath.
Brushing alone is not enough to reach the narrow spaces between teeth. This is where flossing comes in. Here’s how to floss properly:
- Cut approximately 45 cm of dental floss and wrap the ends around your fingers, leaving a 2.5 to 5 cm section stretched between your hands.
- Gently insert the floss between teeth, forming a “C” around each tooth.
- Slide the floss gently up and down against the sides of each tooth, guiding it evenly under the gum line.
- Use a clean section of floss for each interdental space.
3. Foods and drinks that help eliminate plaque
Certain foods and beverages can naturally help eliminate plaque. Here are just a few examples:
- Fiber-rich foods, such as crunchy vegetables and fresh fruit, can help clean teeth and stimulate saliva production, which helps neutralize acids and remove food particles.
- Green tea contains polyphenols that can inhibit bacterial growth and reduce plaque formation.
- Foods rich in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, stimulate gum health and can help prevent plaque build-up.
4. Hydrogen peroxide: a natural plaque remover
Hydrogen peroxide can be used as a natural agent to treat plaque. However, it’s important to use it with care and according to your dentist’s advice.
- Prepare a diluted hydrogen peroxide solution by mixing equal portions of water and 3% hydrogen peroxide.
- Use this solution as a mouthwash, circulating it in your mouth for 30 to 60 seconds, then spit it out.
- Repeat once or twice a week to help reduce plaque.
It’s essential to consult your dentist before using hydrogen peroxide, as some people may have sensitivities or contraindications to its use.
Recommended products for removing dental plaque
Here are a few products we recommend to help you effectively remove plaque and prevent tartar so that you can maintain good oral hygiene.
5. Anti-tartar toothpaste
Anti-tartar toothpastes are specially formulated to help remove plaque and prevent tartar build-up. They usually contain active ingredients such as disodium pyrophosphate, zinc citrate or triclosan, which can help inhibit the growth of plaque-causing bacteria.
When choosing an anti-tartar toothpaste, look for products that have been approved by recognized dental organizations. These toothpastes can be used as part of your daily brushing routine to help prevent plaque build-up and maintain healthy teeth.
6. Antiseptic mouthwash
Antiseptic mouthwashes can be a useful complement to brushing and flossing, as they can get to hard-to-reach areas. These antiseptic solutions contain antibacterial agents that help reduce the number of bacteria present in the mouth, thereby reducing plaque build-up.
When choosing an antiseptic mouthwash, look for products recommended by dental health professionals and proven to be clinically effective. Follow the instructions, and avoid swallowing. Antiseptic mouthwashes should not replace brushing and flossing, but rather complement them as part of your daily oral hygiene routine.
7. Interdental brushes
As their name suggests, interdental brushes are small, brush-like tools that can access the spaces between your teeth. They can be particularly useful for removing plaque in areas where there is a larger space between your teeth.
Interdental brushes are a practical alternative for anyone who finds dental floss difficult to handle. Choose a brush size to fit the space between your teeth, and use them with care to avoid damaging your gums. Interdental brushes can be used once a day, or as recommended by your dentist.
It’s important to note that these recommended products are not a substitute for good overall oral hygiene, which includes regular brushing, flossing and visits to your dentist. Consult your dentist for personalized recommendations based on your specific needs.
How can I prevent plaque?
Now that you are aware of several methods for removing plaque, let’s focus on prevention. Here are some professional tips for helping you prevent plaque build-up.
Regular dental check-ups
Regular visits to the dentist play a crucial role in preventing plaque build-up and maintaining good oral health. At each appointment, your dentist will thoroughly examine your mouth to detect any early problems before they become serious, and perform a professional cleaning to remove plaque and tartar.
It is generally recommended that you see your dentist at least twice a year, but this may vary depending on your specific dental needs. Your dentist can tell you how often you should visit, based on the condition of your mouth and your dental history.
In addition to visits to the dentist, there are other things you can do to maintain good oral hygiene and prevent plaque build-up:
- Adopt a healthy diet: Limit your intake of foods that are rich in sugar and starch, since these encourage the growth of the bacteria that cause plaque. Eat a balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and dairy products.
- Avoid harmful habits: Smoking can affect your teeth and contribute to plaque build-up.
- Stay hydrated with water: Drinking water throughout the day helps stimulate the production of saliva, which plays an important role in neutralizing acids and washing away food particles.
- Avoid frequent snacking: Eat fewer snacks between meals, so bacteria have fewer opportunities to produce acids and form plaque.
Eliminate plaque and tartar at Clinique Dentaire 1935
You can remove most dental plaque by perfecting your daily oral hygiene routine and brushing your teeth correctly.
However, you should visit your dentist every 6 months for a cleaning and check-up to make sure your efforts are working and your mouth is clean and healthy.
At Clinique Dentaire 1935, our dentists and dental hygienists offer professional services and advice to help you remove plaque and tartar.