We’ve all heard about the perils of plaque and tartar build-up when it comes to oral health. These substances eat away at your tooth enamel, opening you up to infection, disease, and tooth decay, none of which are appealing. And while plaque is merely a sticky substance that clings to teeth, it can lead to hard, scaly tartar that is much more damaging and difficult to remove. In other words, it’s in your best interest to nip dental plaque in the bud before it becomes a more serious problem. Your dentist is most qualified to remove plaque and tartar build-up, but you can actually do a lot on your own. Here are just a few strategies that will help you to combat and remove plaque at home.
The place to start, as you may imagine, is with a proper dental hygiene regimen. Brush, floss, and rinse is the mantra your dentist instills, and it’s a good one. If you’re dealing with excess plaque, ask your dentist for a refresher course on these basic skills. Think about it: when was the last time you learned how to properly brush your teeth? Were you three years old? Maybe four or five? The point is that you’ve probably developed some lazy habits over time. So ask your dentist to show you how to brush, floss, and rinse with mouthwash the next time you go in for an appointment. It could make a big difference in the amount of plaque and tartar you see at future visits.
From there you need to stick to a regular schedule of dental care. This means going through your 3-step routine (brush, floss, rinse) after every meal if possible. If this isn’t feasible because of time constraints or other restrictions, at least make sure to follow your routine following breakfast and dinner, when you’re at home. And there are other steps you can take to protect the health of your teeth in the meantime.
Consider your diet, for example. If you eat a lot of sugar, you’re feeding the bacteria that live in your mouth. And when they feed, their numbers swell and the acidic waste they leave behind turns into plaque on your teeth. If you eat acidic foods, you’re speeding the process. So the first thing you should do is become aware of the amount of sugary and acidic foods you consume. If you drink soda daily, you’re doing your body and your mouth a real disservice. Think about switching to milk and water. The first helps to build strong bones, teeth included. And the second helps to flush away food particles and bacteria, supplementing the natural rinsing agent in your mouth – saliva.
Finally, you need to schedule a dental visit on a regular basis. In addition to seeing specialists for oral surgery or visiting the The Center for Dental Sleep Medicine to help you deal with sleep disorders related to your oral health (apnea, bruxism, etc.), it’s important to see your dentist for cleaning and check-up regularly, whether you’re going in annually, every six months, or even more frequently. You can do a lot to stave off plaque and tartar at home, but regular dental visits provide a deeper clean and allow you to catch problems like cavities early, before they become more serious.