Just about everyone has some amount of plaque on their teeth, no matter how much they brush and floss. Many people rely on their dentist when they come in for their twice-yearly checkup/cleaning appointments to remove the plaque buildup – as they should!
But did you know you can remove a lot more of it yourself than you may have thought? We provide some tips below.
But First: What is Plaque?
Plaque is a sticky film containing millions of bacteria that collects and builds up on your teeth. The bacteria in dental plaque are what can cause cavities in teeth, tooth decay and even gum disease if you don’t remove the plaque regularly by brushing and flossing your teeth twice daily.
The bacteria works with the sugars and starches in your food to create acids that will eat away at your tooth enamel. If this continues over time, your enamel can break down, resulting in a cavity in your tooth.
If you don’t brush or floss enough, plaque can harden into what is known as tartar. If the bacteria, plaque and tartar increase, your gums can swell and become red (possibly even bleed when you brush). This is a sign of mild form of gum disease known as gingivitis. If it worsens it can move to periodontal disease, which can lead to tooth loss. Excess plaque and tartar buildup can also be a cause of bad breath.
How to Remove Plaque
1. Visit your dentist at least twice a year for a professional cleaning
Your dentist will remove plaque and tartar buildup in ways you simply can’t at home. If your dentist finds that you have an excess of plaque buildup, then you may need a deep cleaning to remove the plaque from in between the teeth and around the gums. Your dentist may recommend that you come in for a cleaning three or even four times a year. Understand that the extra expense of the additional visits is well worth having healthier teeth and gums when you’re older, which is when most of the damage caused by poor oral hygiene habits tends to catch up with us in the form of periodontal disease and tooth loss.
Brushing and flossing can keep plaque under control. But if you notice extra plaque buildup, take a look below for some at-home remedies you can try in order to remove the plaque from your teeth. Always consult with your dentist prior to starting any at home remedies.
2. Use plaque loosening toothpaste and mouthwash
There are specially formulated dental hygiene products that contain tetrasodium pyrophosphate that actually control the buildup of plaque and tartar. Special mouthwashes help control tartar buildup by removing calcium and magnesium from the saliva. Similarly, specially formulated toothpastes inhibit calcium and magnesium from bonding to the surface of the teeth. Consult with your dentist prior to use, and use these products only as recommended.
3. Purchase a water flosser
A water flosser is an at-home cleaner that sprays water in between the teeth and gums. A water flosser cleans the teeth differently than traditional brushing and flossing because it uses water to push plaque from the teeth.
4. Baking soda
Also known as sodium bicarbonate, baking soda can neutralize the acids in your mouth, thereby reducing the amount of bacteria.
- Take two teaspoons of baking soda and mix one teaspoon of salt in it.
- Dampen your toothbrush and dip it in the mixture.
- Gently brush your teeth.
You can also mix a teaspoon of baking soda with hydrogen peroxide to make a paste. Brush your teeth and gums with the paste. Don’t overuse baking soda: over time it could damage your tooth enamel.
The best way to prevent buildup of plaque and tartar is to practice good daily oral hygiene by brushing and flossing your teeth twice a day. While no at-home remedy can substitute for what a professional dental cleaning can remove, taking steps to prevent and treat dental tartar and plaque are good ways to keep your smile healthy.