5 Tartar Prevention Tips

Tartar buildup on your teeth increases your chances for both tooth decay and gum disease. While regular dental cleanings are the single best thing you can do to control plaque buildup overall, there are also steps you can take at home to help minimize plaque and tartar formation between dentist appointments. The following tips will help.

Tip #1: Update your brush 

Simply switching from a standard toothbrush to an electric model can help minimize tartar buildup, simply because electric brushes do better at breaking up and removing tartar in its early stages. If you aren't ready to go electric, then you should at least change out your manual toothbrush every one to two months as the bristles wear out. Opt for a soft or medium bristle brush -- overly hard bristles can damage the gums.

Tip #2: Time yourself

You need to brush at least twice a day for two minutes at a time. Use a timer or watch the clock, because it can be easy to misjudge the amount of time you have been brushing. Divide your mouth into four quadrants and aim to spend 30 seconds brushing each quadrant so you can ensure the front, back, and top of each tooth is thoroughly scrubbed.

Tip #3: Start flossing

Flossing should be completed at least once a day, preferably in the evening. Regular flossing is key to preventing tartar from forming along the gum line. Keep in mind that flossing can be uncomfortable at first, but after a week or two your gums adjust, and most discomfort should go away. If it remains painful, talk with your dentist. You may be able to substitute a water pick for flossing.

Tip #4: Watch your diet

Diet also influences tartar buildup. The bacteria that attack your oral health tend to be drawn to sugary or starchy foods. If you drink a lot of soda, eat a lot of sweets, or are a lover of pasta, you will be more prone to plaque and tartar. Minimizing these items, especially at times when you can't brush right away, can help reduce the amount of tartar on your teeth.

Tip #5: Rinse regularly

Rinsing your mouth out once a day with an antibacterial mouthwash will also help prevent the growth of plaque-causing bacteria. If you are out and about where you can't brush or use mouthwash, then at least rinse with clear water to remove excess food debris and cut down on plaque growth until you can brush.

Talk to your dentist for more help.