Appearance of tartar
To avoid tartar formation, it is advisable to brush your teeth often, floss, and visit your dentist regularly.
Tartar, or dental calculus, is a creamy white or brownish-yellow mass that forms around teeth as a result of calcification from dental plaque, which is made up of bacteria, food debris, and saliva.
It takes 24 hours for this bacterial plaque to mineralise and turn into tartar.
Although tartar itself does not have any harmful effects, its formation can cause multiple problems for oral health. “tartar acts as a kind of coral barrier, which isolates certain areas or nooks which, being protected by the tartar layer, are an ideal place for the proliferation of bacteria.
The damages that tartar can cause are very diverse. Blanca Cabezas, specialist in Stomatology and associate professor at the University of Oviedo, assures that “the problems it causes are derived from its great capacity for bacterial plaque to adhere to it, which is responsible for the majority of oral pathologies”.
According to the expert, “tartar can lead to the appearance of cavities, problems such as gingivitis, periodontitis and recessions of gums, halitosis and bad breath, in addition to a strongly unsightly appearance.
The appearance of all these problems can, in turn, lead to greater complications that put oral health at risk.
Cabezas states, in this sense, that “affections such as caries and periodontitis are the most frequent causes of tooth loss, which is not a minor issue, as well as an aesthetic alteration, the absence of a tooth produces a disorder in the ability to chew, which in turn can lead to digestive disorders.
Although there is a belief that tartar can be removed at home, this is impossible, since, according to the expert, “the only way to do this is to go to a specialist and undergo techniques such as scraping or ultrasound.
In this sense, Cabezas insists on the importance of prevention, since, according to the expert, it is the most effective and cheapest measure.
To prevent the appearance of tartar, or at least reduce its formation, a series of guidelines can be established, which serve both to help prevent the calcification of bacterial plaque and to maintain good oral health. The main recommendations are:
- Deep brushing: Alfonso Maza emphasizes the need to brush your teeth at least three times a day, however, he also insists that a deep brushing must be done at least once a day to remove any plaque.
According to both experts, brushing is the cheapest and most effective technique to prevent the appearance of tartar. The expert warns of the harms of using mouthwashes, since many people, he says, “take them as a substitute for brushing, so they pay less attention, or directly do not brush because they think that with the mouthwash is enough, which is a mistake.
- Flossing: Although in the United States it is a deep-rooted hygienic custom, in Spain dental floss is not usually used, which is a very useful tool to clean those nooks and crannies where the brush may not have arrived and to make oral hygiene more complete.
- Going to the dentist: In addition to proper oral hygiene at home, it is essential to visit the dentist regularly, at least once a year. Cabezas explains that “a specialist is the only one who can diagnose the presence of calculus, whether supragingival, or the one inside the gums or subgingival, of which patients are often unaware”. In addition, he states, “a dentist is also the only one who can correct the factors that make tartar buildup easier, as well as teach patients the best way to clean their teeth.
Foods that favour the appearance of tartar
One of the factors that determines a greater or lesser formation of dental calculi is the constitution of each person’s saliva, so that one subject may have a greater production of tartar than another. However, there are also certain foods and products that favour their appearance.
Foods that stick to teeth more easily than others, such as tin loaf, increase plaque retention. However, Cabezas affirms that “there are also other products which, on the contrary, favour self-cleaning in the mouth due to their hard consistency, such as apples or raw carrots”.
Alfonso Maza states in this regard that “the foods that make a person more prone to the appearance of tartar are those that have a high pH, as in the case of carbonated beverages.