Natural breakdown of tartar?

If you’re prone to tartar buildup, you may have thought about possibilities for removing tartar without seeing a dentist. While it’s never advisable to scrape away tartar from the teeth the same way dental hygienists and other dental professionals do, it might be possible to contribute to the breakdown of dental tartar in safer, more natural ways. In order to understand how tartar might break down, it’s first necessary to understand what tartar is made of and how it develops.

Also known as calculus, tartar is a calcified material that forms when bacterial plaque is allowed to remain on the teeth, where it hardens and becomes tartar. Bacterial plaque is softer than tartar, appearing as a sticky film on the teeth that is fed by the carbohydrates in food and drinks. In this softer state, plaque can be removed from the teeth with conscientious brushing and flossing. Even with proper oral hygiene, some residual plaque can remain on the teeth, especially in places that are harder to reach, and any plaque allowed to remain on the teeth will develop into tartar.

Once it has formed, tartar establishes itself between the teeth, affecting the appearance of the teeth and causing bad breath while encouraging gum disease, tooth decay, and other health concerns. Tartar can’t be removed with home hygiene measures like brushing and flossing and can only be safely removed by using professional tools in a clinical setting. Because of its rough, porous texture, tartar attracts additional plaque buildup and interferes with effective brushing and flossing.

As more and more plaque and tartar accumulate, the acids released by the bacteria in these substances gradually eat away at the enamel on the teeth and cause dental cavities. An accumulation of tartar at the gum line leads to inflammation in the gums that, when left unaddressed, can worsen and become periodontal disease, which can lead to tooth loss and the destruction of the other oral tissues, including the bone.

Tartar can only be safely and effectively removed by a dentist or dental hygienist; using a sharp, specialized instrument called a dental scaler, your dental professional will carefully and thoroughly scrape existing plaque and tartar from your teeth, taking care to scrape upwards so no plaque or tartar becomes trapped below the gums.

While there’s no substitute for a professional cleaning, there are some home care methods that might reduce tartar or help prevent it from forming in the first place. Some patients have successfully reduced or removed deposits of tartar by brushing with a paste made of baking soda and water; the abrasive qualities of this paste can help scrub some deposits off the teeth. Other patients report diminished tartar after gargling with a white vinegar, salt, and water solution once a day.

Some methods aim to limit the development of plaque and tartar, rather than removing tartar that has already formed. The antibacterial properties of orange peels can help prevent plaque and tartar formation; rubbing the orange peel over the teeth releases protective oils that discourage bacterial accumulation.

Other foods that are high in vitamin C, like strawberries and tomatoes, might confer similar benefits when applied to the teeth in a paste and allowed to remain on the teeth for several minutes. Aloe vera is another antibacterial substance that might help reduce tartar on the teeth, applied as a solution of aloe, water, baking soda, and glycerin. Flossing the teeth can also help reduce staining and minimize the amount of tartar that accumulates. While these methods can help reduce tartar accumulation, the only way to thoroughly remove residual tartar is with a professional dental cleaning, but some of these home methods might help keep tartar to a minimum while you wait to see your dentist.

Tartar and teeth damage