Plaque is soft, bacteria-filled matter that forms on your teeth when you don’t brush or floss properly after meals. Tartar, also called “calculus,” is hardened plaque. Both of these substances must be removed to have healthy teeth and gums. But you don’t always have to go to the dentist and pay $50 to $100 per visit to remove tartar build-up from your teeth. There is a process that you can use at home to get rid of stubborn tartar from around your gums. Does this Spark an idea?
Gargle with hydrogen peroxide or purchase an antiseptic oral cleanser (see Resources for an example). These products oxygenate around the surfaces of your teeth and edges of your gums to help loosen and remove tartar and plaque. Swish a large capful (about 10 mL) of the product in your mouth for at least a minute. Continue to gargle with one of these solutions at least once per day or after every meal to rinse out the majority of the food particles from your mouth.
Once you have gargled, floss in between your teeth thoroughly. Take your time to floss each inside surface, up and down at least three times each. You can use a Waterpik as an alternative, but flossing is more effective at pulling out stubborn food particles and bacteria from between the teeth and around the gums.
Use a dental pick (available to everyday consumers) to gently remove the hard tartar from your teeth. Look in a magnified, lighted mirror when scraping because it will allow you to better distinguish the tartar (which is usually clearly yellow) from your teeth. Be sure to get in between the teeth as well wherever possible. Be careful not to pick too deep under your gums as this can cause bleeding, irritation and even infection. Spit and rinse with water intermittently, just as you would at the dentist’s office.
Brush and Rinse
Once the tartar and plaque has been removed, brush your teeth as normal and rinse to ensure that the tartar particles are completely gone from your mouth. Use a toothpaste that specifically says “tartar control” to help protect your teeth from future plaque build-up problems. Be mindful about brushing and flossing regularly, preferably after each meal, to stop tartar from coming back.