Tartar and 6 ways to prevent its return

Tartar removal

To remove tartar from your teeth completely, you need dentists or oral hygienists. Because dentists have the tools and training to get rid of tartar from your teeth and give good advice on oral care to prevent it from returning. 


Tartar — also called calculus — is made up of plaque and minerals from your saliva. Tartar can build up on teeth and attack the gum line. Tartar is a hard coating on the teeth. Because it’s porous, food and drink can easily leave tartar in your mouth.

Tartar deposits are usually yellow or brown in color and form behind or between teeth. Tartar forms when plaque remains on teeth for an extended period of time, and both can be harmful to your oral health. 

Plaque and tartar
Plaque and tartar

Tartar and plaque can:

  • Cause bad breath, from poor oral hygiene.
  • Destroy enamel, lead to tooth sensitivity, cavities, and even tooth loss.
  • Increase risk of gum disease.

Dental care routine

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends the following:

  • Brush at least twice a day, ideally rinse after having a meal.
  • Use a comfortable toothbrush. Choosing to use a manual or an electric toothbrush depends on personal preference — both will effectively remove plaque if used correctly and regularly. 
  • Brush at an angle and include your gums. Angle the brush at 45 degrees so you can get bristles up into the corners between teeth and gums, where plaque can hide. Use your toothbrush on the areas where your teeth and gum line meet, too.
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste.
  • Floss once a day. Flossing cleans between your teeth and along your gum line to take food particles off your teeth

Prevention: 6 ways to make it tough for tartar to appear

Regular brushing and rinsing is the best prevention for calculus and plaque formation. There are some recommendations to reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth and control tartar buildup:

  • A specially formulated toothpaste

Tartar-control toothpaste. In a 2008 research comparing the efficiency between a tartar-control toothpaste and a fluoride toothpaste, it showed that using the tartar-control toothpaste had about 35% less calculus than using the fluoride toothpaste.

Toothpaste with baking soda. Studies demonstrate that toothpastes containing baking soda are more effective at removing plaque than toothpastes without it because it has a mild abrasive effect.

Skip the charcoal-based toothpastes. Charcoal-based toothpastes have not been proven to be effective at controlling calculus nor to be safe.

  • Whitening strips. According to a 2009 research, those who used pyrophosphate-infused hydrogen peroxide whitening strips on a regular basis for three months had 29 percent less tartar than those who just used a toothbrush.
  • Tea. Green tea may decrease the amount of bacteria in your mouth. If you don’t want to drink tea, try a mouthwash that has tea in it.
  • Eating fresh fruits and vegetables. Because they promote aggressive chewing, and thus saliva production, these foods can help wash away some of the bacteria in your mouth that produce tartar. Same goes for sugar-free chewing gum.
  • Water flosser. To get rid of germs and debris, the water flosser pumps trickle into the gaps between teeth. It can reduce plaque more effectively than string floss when used consistently and correctly.
  • Mouthwash. The American Dental Association (ADA) claims that mouthwashes with antibacterial components such as cetylpyridinium, chlorhexidine, and certain essential oils help reduce plaque and calculus. It’s crucial to remember that these rinses should be applied along with flossing and brushing.

The advantages of removing tartar

Routine professional cleanings break off tartar buildup. Both traditional and holistic dentists (dentists who consider the overall health of the patients, not just their oral health) can do a dental cleaning. Using a hand-held metal scaler (a device with a hook-like end), your dentist or dental hygienist will remove tartar. If you have an excessive amount of calculus that has led to gum disease, your dentist may recommend a deep cleaning that involves scaling and root planing.

Plaque and calculus are removed both above and below the gum line (in the pockets where the gum has come away from the tooth). Roots of teeth are smoothed to help encourage reattachment of the gum to the tooth. In some cases a laser may be used to kill bacteria deep within a gum pocket.

The frequency of having tartar removed

Tartar removal
Tartar removal

The ADA now states that the frequency of dental visits should be dependent on your oral health. However, many dentists recommend having a dental cleaning and checkup every six months even when you feel your teeth are healthy. If you’re prone to plaque or tartar buildup, you’ll require more regular cleanings.

Some cases need cleanings more often include:

  • Dry mouth, often comes from medications or getting older. While saliva contains bacteria, it also aids in the removal of debris.
  • Lack the physical dexterity to thoroughly brush their teeth.
  • Be prevented from fully understanding or completing a dental hygiene routine.

Tartar affects your gums

Gum disease can result from the irritation and inflammation that calculus causes. The first stage of gum disease can have some signs, including:

  • red, swollen gums
  • bleeding gums when you floss or brush
  • tender gums

Periodontitis can develop from gingivitis and is irreversible. Beside swollen, tender, bleeding gums, look for these symptoms:

  • painful chewing
  • loose teeth
  • separation of gums and teeth
  • pus collecting between your teeth

The bacteria can spread to the bloodstream, which increases the risk of heart and lung disease. That is why seeking dental care is crucial if you notice any of these signs. These severe effects are avoidable by brushing, flossing, and rinsing your teeth as regularly as possible.

Gum disease
Gum disease

About tartar and your teeth

700 species of bacteria are in your mouth. Plaque, a tooth-coating, colorless, sticky film, is generated by this bacterium. When bacteria-ladened plaque combines with food particles, it produces a tooth-destroying acid.

Most plaque may be removed by regularly brushing and flossing before it has a chance to seriously harm your teeth. But plaque that’s allowed to stick on teeth combines with minerals in your saliva and hardens into calculus.

The takeaway

Although tartar buildup is common, if it’s not treated, it can significantly interfere with your daily life. Regular brushing and flossing, along with frequent dental cleanings and checkups, are the best protection against this hardened plaque or calculus.


How is calculus removed from teeth?

Debridement is the term used to describe the elimination of calculus. An expertised dentist performs this procedure by utilizing a hand-held scaling tool or an ultrasonic equipment. The ultrasonic gadget uses water and high-frequency vibrations to remove the calculus.

Is dental calculus permanent?

Tartar, also known as dental calculus, is a deposit that develops on your teeth when plaque hardens. It is usually yellow or brown. To remove tartar from your teeth completely, you need dentists or oral hygienists. Because dentists have the tools and training to get rid of tartar from your teeth and give good advice on oral care to prevent it from returning. 

Can dental calculus fall off?

Tartar will harden and calcify if it is not eliminated. If tartar separates from the back of your teeth and leaves a sharp edge, your tongue and cheek tissue may suffer damage. This hard exterior may potentially split apart or divide, allowing it to enter the bloodstream.

Do gums grow back after calculus removal?

Once you have lost gum tissue, it is typically impossible to get it back. It is permanently lost. However, this does not imply that there is no hope left for you. You might be able to slow the development of gum recession with the appropriate periodontal therapy.

Why is calculus so hard to remove?

Just be sure to properly brush and floss your teeth. Even your natural saliva helps to remove some types of plaque. However, if you don’t completely remove all the plaque, it quickly turns into tartar, which is difficult to remove with brushing and flossing.


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