How do your teeth feel when you roll your tongue over them? Is it smooth like porcelain, or is it rough? If it's the latter, chances are that you have dental tartar buildup.
Dental tartar, also called dental calculus, is dental plaque that has hardened on your teeth. Dental plaque is a film of colorless bacteria that sticks to your teeth like a needy boyfriend or girlfriend. Bad oral hygiene habits cause dental plaque to build up and dental tartar to eventually collect above your gum line, which provides more sticky surfaces for dental plaque to grow on that again collect dental tartar. It's a vicious cycle.
Not only is dental tartar a dental plaque magnet, but also a stain magnet. It absorbs stain from coffee, tea or smoking so easily that over time, it paints your teeth a strange kind of yellow or brown -- colors that kindergarten kids do not usually associate with teeth.
Dental Tartar Can Lead to Dental Cavities
This dental plaque-and-tartar partnership doesn't just push people away, feeding personal insecurities, but also spawns more serious health issues as well, such as cavities and gum disease that at its best leads to a tooth filling or gum disease treatment but at its worst leads to tooth loss. Yes, dental tartar is stickier than we give it discredit for, also because you can't remove dental tartar yourself. But you can keep it from causing all that mess. Begin by going to your dentist, because only a dentist can remove dental tartar with a dental treatment called scaling and root planing. The dentist or dental hygienist uses special instruments to remove dental tartar from your teeth and below the gumline.
Your responsibility continues outside your dentist's office with preventing dental tartar from coming back. All you need to do is to practice good oral hygiene habits -- brush at least twice a day with fluoride or tartar control toothpaste, floss daily -- and see your dentist regularly every six months. That's not too much to do if you want to tick "mouth," "teeth" or "gums" off your insecurity list.