Tartar and Plaque: How-To Prevent Buildup
If you have a buildup of tartar on the back of your bottom teeth you’re not alone. This is a common problem for many people. The good news is tartar is both treatable and preventable.
What is the white hard substance on the back of my teeth?
This hard buildup on the back of your lower teeth is known as calculus or tartar. It’s not the same as plaque. Plaque is the soft furry stuff that builds up on your teeth during the day. Most of the time you’ll brush this off in the evenings. When plaque hardens it turns into calculus or tartar. That’s what you are noticing on the back of your teeth.
Why does tartar and plaque build up on the back of my teeth?
When plaque isn’t removed with a toothbrush, the natural proteins found in our saliva cause it to calcify and harden. The floor of our mouths has saliva glands which coat the backs of our teeth in saliva all day. While saliva is important and helps wash away food debris, bacteria and plaque, it also contributes to the calcification process.
Another reason tartar builds up on the back of the teeth is because this is a difficult area to clean. It’s hard to clean behind your teeth and most people don’t dedicate time to cleaning the backs of their teeth. If you’ve had braces on your lower teeth and now have a dental bar, you should be extra diligent. The bar can block your toothbrush’s bristles from thoroughly cleaning this area.
Is tartar on the back of my teeth a bad thing?
Tartar is bad for your teeth and gums. It’s made up of plaque and harmful bacteria and tartar acts as a source of fuel for the bacteria to grow.
Tartar is also a problem because it acts like a barrier, keeping the bacteria and other harmful substances close to your gums and teeth. These bacteria can attack your teeth and gums and lead to things like tooth decay and gum disease.
What happens if I don’t remove tartar?
It’s not a good idea to just leave tartar on the back of your teeth. If you have a buildup of tartar on your teeth you can expect it to get worse over time. Tartar can also cause small pockets to form between your gums and teeth. These pockets are effective at trapping food and bacteria which can also cause gum disease and recessed gums.
Leaving tartar on your teeth can:
- Erode the tooth enamel
- Lead to cavities
- Make your gums sensitive
- Cause swelling and bleeding
- Cause bad breath
- Leave your teeth looking stained
- Cause gingivitis
- Cause gum recession
How do I treat tartar on the back of teeth if I can’t brush it off?
If you have tartar on the back of your teeth you’ve probably noticed that you can’t brush it off. Occasionally bits of tartar can break off your teeth after eating certain foods or brushing aggressively. In general, tartar is very strong and no amount of brushing or flossing can remove it. You can actually damage the enamel by trying to treat tartar on your own.
The best way to remove tartar is with a dental hygienist appointment. Your dentist or hygienist has special tools like scalers and curettes which make light work of removing tartar. Routine cleanings are good for your oral health. During an appointment your hygienist or dentist will remove any tartar and give your mouth a good clean.
What if my tartar buildup has caused gum disease?
If your tartar buildup has caused gum disease you might need more than just a clean. Periodontitis is a severe form of gum disease. In this instance you might be a good fit for tooth scaling or root planing.
These two techniques are used to remove tartar and treat your inflamed gums. These are deep-cleaning procedures to remove tartar from the roots of your teeth below the gum line.
How do I prevent tartar and plaque buildup on the back of my teeth?
The best way to prevent tartar buildup on your teeth is with regular brushing and flossing. But, even if you brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily, you might still have tartar buildup.
You can prevent tartar from forming by brushing behind your teeth properly:
- When you brush your teeth make a flicking motion as you brush behind your teeth.
- Brush behind your teeth for around thirty seconds.
- Use an electric toothbrush. The head turns a lot faster than you can brush with a manual toothbrush.
- Always floss between your front bottom teeth.
- Schedule a hygienist appointment every year. Even the most diligent people should see their dentist regularly for a clean.
- Avoid smoking and tobacco products. These increase your risk of developing tartar.
If you notice tartar buildup on the backs of your teeth, book a dental appointment with Gentle Dental. Our hygienists take a gentle approach to cleaning your teeth. If you need more than just a regular tooth clean, we can talk to you about any further treatment options. Book an appointment now.