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What Are the Best Tips for Tartar Control?

Flossing can help remove the plaque that builds up on teeth.
Brushing teeth frequently may help reduce tartar.
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  • Written By: Lauren Romano
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 10 August 2014
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    Conjecture Corporation
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From brushing frequently to seeing a dentist every six months, the best tips for tartar control involve proper and daily caring of the teeth. Tartar is the plaque that hardens on teeth at the gum line as well as underneath it. The first step in combating this problem is to brush after every meal. It's especially important to floss to remove plaque and food particles stuck in between teeth. Built-up tartar can only be removed at the dentist's office.

Tartar isn't good for the health of teeth nor is it good for their appearance. It hardens at the gum line and underneath it, which can cause gum disease, cavities and gum irritation. Cosmetically, the hardened plaque can also make teeth and gums turn yellow or brown.

Although it sometimes seems inconvenient, brushing after every meal is important for tartar control. To properly brush teeth, hold the brush on an angle right against the gum line and make a circular motion on the outside of the teeth, then follow that by doing the inside of the teeth as well. Brush the tongue to remove built-up bacteria. A good brushing takes at least two minutes; watch TV during the process to make the time go more quickly and seem less tedious.

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Flossing is another method of tartar control. To start, each strand of floss should be about 18 inches (approximately 45 centimeters) with the ends wrapped around the pointer fingers and supported by the pads of the thumbs. Slide the floss in between each tooth and lightly move it up and down while scraping the sides of each tooth. Always use a clean section of floss for each space, otherwise the previous scrapings will transfer over. Never jam or force the floss in between the teeth or yank upward; slowly slide it to avoid cutting the gums or tongue.

Preventive measures help with tartar control, but the only way to remove hardened plaque is to go to the dentist for a special cleaning called a scaling and root planing. The scaling portion is what removes the tartar from the teeth, while the root planing removes bacteria from the surface of the roots. Although it varies from person to person, there is typically little to no discomfort with scaling and root planing and it may not all be done in one visit. Regardless, everyone should see the dentist every six months to ensure that the mouth is healthy and there isn't too much plaque build-up.

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