Plaque and tartar

Dental plaque is a soft and colorless biofilm (organic layer) formed by bacteria in the mouth.
The bacterial species responsible for the formation of dental plaque are Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sobrinus.

The formation of plaque can be prevented with good oral hygiene (regular brushing and flossing), a healthy diet low in sugar and plenty of drinking.
Plaque can be easily removed by daily brushing and flossing with the right technique.
If the plaque is not removed and can settle, it hardens after a few days and forms tartar.
Tartar consists of anaerobic bacteria that harden (petrify) with calcium phosphate salts and saliva.
It bonds firmly to the teeth and forms a cement-hard layer with a rough surface.
This rough surface is ideal for the formation of further plaque and tartar. It usually gathers around the base of the tooth, under the edges of the gums and further down in the sulcus, the space between teeth and gums.

When tartar is formed, it is very hard and too tightly attached to the teeth to be removed with a toothbrush.
The conventional therapy for the removal of tartar is a tooth cleaning by the dentist, who uses special instruments for this.
Tartar has a yellowish color, but can also have shades of gray or white.
Plaque and tartar form mainly in the areas near the salivary glands, i.e. on the lower incisors or the upper molars.


What effect does tartar have on teeth and gums?

When tartar forms, brushing the teeth and flossing becomes less effective.
The acids released by the bacteria in the mouth increase the tendency to degenerate the enamel.
This causes tooth decay, one of the world’s most common diseases.

Tartar that forms over the edge of the gums can have particularly severe effects.
As a result, the existing bacteria can irritate and damage the gums.

Over time, this inflammation can cause progressive gum disease, which can have serious consequences if left untreated. The mildest form of gum disease is gingivitis.
This is the initial stage of gingivitis, which is due to the presence of plaque and tartar on the teeth.
Normally, gingivitis can be stopped and cured with careful brushing, the use of dental floss and regular tooth cleaning at the dentist.

If the tartar is not removed and the gingivitis is not cured, a severe form of gum disease called periodontal disease can develop, in which pockets form between the inside of the tooth and the gums.
These pockets become infected due to the tartar under the gums.
The body’s immune system releases chemical substances to fight the bacteria that, in conjunction with the substances secreted by the bacteria, can damage the bones and other tissues that hold the teeth in place.
Eventually, this can lead to tooth loss and bone loss.
In addition, studies have shown that the bacteria can cause heart problems and other diseases in gum disease.

Children can also develop tartar on their milk teeth, so parents should also brush their teeth well for infants and children aged 2-3 years to prevent the formation of tooth decay and other dental diseases.
For children and adults who wear braces (fixed or removable), it is difficult to remove plaque and tartar.

Causes and risk factors for the formation of tartar

  • Carbohydrates and sugar in the mouth. This happens when consuming sugared foods and drinks, sweets and refined carbohydrates (made with flour, sugar, etc.).
  • Poor oral hygiene. Not brushing your teeth and flossing allows bacteria to accumulate between your teeth.
  • Dehydration or low salivation
  • Smoke
  • Diabetes

Symptoms of plaque and tartar

  • Gum disease. May cause sore and inflamed gums, gum infection and gum shrinkage.
  • Dental caries. Tartar forms the basis for further accumulation of plaque and tartar, which promote tooth decay.
  • Bad breath. Tartar smells bad and causes bad breath.
  • The anaerobic bacteria that accumulate between teeth and gums can cause heart disease and low birth weight in newborns.
  • Stains on tooth enamel

Bacteria and yeasts (fungi) that cause a white tongue do not form tartar and plaque.

What to do? Therapy for plaque and tartar

In order to prevent the serious consequences of tartar, one should prevent its formation.
Here’s how:

Brush your teeth regularly, using the right technique.
A short brushing of teeth for 30 seconds in the morning and in the evening is not enough to remove plaque and prevent the formation of tartar. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles that is small enough to reach all areas in the mouth.
Also brush the hard-to-reach surfaces behind the teeth and on the posterior molars.
Studies have shown that electric toothbrushes remove plaque better than manual toothbrushes.

Choose a toothpaste with fluorine to reduce tartar.
Toothpastes with pyrophosphates can help prevent the curing of plaque and thus the formation of tartar.
In addition, fluorine helps to repair small injuries to the enamel.
Some formulas also contain triclosan, an antibiotic that fights the bacteria in dental plaque.
Use dental floss.
You can brush your teeth for as long as you want, but only flossing daily can remove plaque between your teeth and prevent tartar from forming in these hard-to-reach zones.

Control the diet. Bacteria in the mouth multiply with sweet and sour foods.
When ingesting these foods, harmful acids are released.
Try to follow a healthy diet and limit the amount of sugary foods. With every meal, the bacteria in the mouth are nourished. Drink plenty of water during and after meals. This helps to reduce the accumulation of dental plaque.

No smoking. Studies show that smoking cigarettes or chewing tobacco promotes the development of tartar on the teeth and under the gums.

Precaution against plaque and tartar

  • Good oral hygiene. Brush correctly and floss correctly.
  • Nutrition. Avoid carbohydrates, especially sugar and refined carbohydrates.
  • Try to maintain an alkaline environment in the mouth. Tartar forms in an acidic environment. You can also use sodium bicarbonate instead of mouthwash or toothpaste.
  • Teeth cleaning. The dentist can remove plaque and tartar on the teeth and under the gum line.

Tooth cleaning for plaque and tartar

There are many crevices, interdental spaces and other similar zones in the mouth that cannot be reached with the brush and bristles of a toothbrush.
This is one of the main reasons why you should visit the dentist every 6 months.
If you do not follow proper dental care and postpone the visit to the dentist, gum problems and periodontal diseases can occur.

Why is thorough cleaning of the teeth necessary?

As already mentioned, the main reason for tooth cleaning by the dentist is the fact that plaque and tartar are often firmly attached and cannot be removed by brushing.
If the teeth and gums are not cleaned at this stage, periodontal disease and other disorders such as gum shrinkage can occur.

How is teeth cleaning performed?
Thorough cleaning of the tooth surface consists of two phases: scraping and root cleaning.
When scraping, the visible surface of the tooth structure, i.e. the crown, is freed from tartar.
Light bleeding is normal when cleaning teeth.
Cleaning of the root occurs when there is gum shrinkage and the surface of the root is exposed in the oral cavity.

If a pregnant woman suffers from gingival pockets, she should avoid professional tooth cleaning during pregnancy until the second trimester of pregnancy.
However, if the woman suffers from severe toothache or discomfort due to plaque or tartar, cleaning should be carried out immediately.

Natural remedies and home remedies for plaque and tartar

Sodium bicarbonate: This is one of the oldest home remedies for removing plaque from teeth. Simply put some sodium bicarbonate in a bowl, wet the toothbrush with water, put some powder on the brush and brush your teeth normally.
Alternatively, you can add a pinch of salt to sodium bicarbonate and use this mixture for brushing your teeth to remove tartar. The preparation of a mouthwash is simple, all you need is:

  • Sodium bicarbonate (half a glass)
  • Water (one glass)
  • Lemon essential oil (10 drops)
  • Aloe vera gel (one teaspoon).

Store the mixture in a bottle for daily use.

Diet and nutrition for plaque and tartar

Apples and melons: eating an apple or any type of melon an hour after eating will help prevent plaque from accumulating and prevent bleeding of the gums.

Orange peel: Rub your teeth with an orange peel before going to bed and do not rinse your mouth afterwards. This helps fight the bacteria.

Spicy foods: Spicy foods help keep your mouth clean.
Eating this type of food stimulates the salivary glands; if the mouth forms sufficient saliva, it cleans the gums and teeth naturally.

You can rinse your mouth with apple cider vinegar diluted in water to reduce tartar and plaque between your teeth.

Read more: