What Is Tartar?

Assorted dental items

Tartar. It’s that icky yellow or brown line that sits on your teeth along the gumline that, no matter how hard you brush (don’t brush too hard!), you can’t seem to get rid of. But what exactly is tartar – and, seriously, how do you get rid of it? Here’s everything you need to know about removing that pesky oral menace known as tartar.

Hire a Pro

Want to know the easiest way to whiten your teeth? It’s not some magic chemical compound or plastic strip. It’s a good old-fashioned dental cleaning. Why? Because much of what causes that ugly discoloration on our teeth is a buildup of plaque known as tartar. Tartar (also known as calculus) is a buildup of hardened plaque bacteria that adheres to the teeth and hardens in place, making it impossible to simply brush away at home. Try as you might to scrub it away, tartar doesn’t budge. In order to remove tartar, you need a professional dental cleaning like the ones you get at Dr. George’s office. You see, tartar is usually bonded to your teeth so much that, unlike regular plaque, it becomes a solid. Worse still, it not only looks bad, but it’s also terrible for your teeth. That’s because the longer that tartar sits on your teeth, the weaker your tooth enamel becomes, and the more likely you are to develop cavities.

More Tartar Troubles

Tartar is also very porous, so it stains easily – so even if your tartar starts out white, if you drink coffee, soda or wine, chances are that color will change! Tartar also keeps bacteria close to your gumline, something that can be extremely dangerous for your gums because it can cause gum disease or gingivitis. If left untreated, this can worsen and develop into advanced periodontal disease, also known as periodontitis. Periodontitis isn’t just bad news for your gums – it can cause gum and tissue loss and can also cause tooth and bone loss. Beyond your mouth, periodontal disease can contribute to everything from cancer to heart disease to diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

What to Do – and Not Do

If you see tartar forming at the gumline, don’t try to brush harder – you could injure your gums. Also, don’t try to scrape it away yourself – you could permanently damage your teeth. The best way to treat tartar is to call Dr. George’s office and schedule a cleaning. To schedule an appointment, please call Dr. George’s office at 724-220-2347.

Dr. Alexandra S. George

Medically reviewed by Dr. Alexandra S. George - D.D.S., L.Vl.I.F. on June 25th, 2019