It used to be that people knew more about the tartar sauce they were covering their fish sticks with than the kind that was developing on their teeth.
Fortunately two things have happened. People eat less fish sticks, which have a relationship akin to chicken “nuggets” and anything resembling poultry. And dental information is now more readily available. Or, maybe it’s simply because toothpastes all starting hogging shelf space with more varieties, including “tartar control.”
At Prosthodontics of New York, while we’re thrilled to give you directions to Sea Breeze Fish Market or Dorian’s so that you can avoid tartar sauce altogether, we’re actually more concerned with the tartar that builds up on your teeth. It’s basically the start of most dental problems. Here’s a brief explanation and some ways to keep tartar from forming on your teeth.
What is tartar?
We all have lots and lots of bacteria in our mouths. Bacteria mix with sugars and proteins from food to form a sticky film on your teeth called plaque. Plaque coats your teeth and can get under your gumline. It is the start of a process that leads to tooth decay and gum inflammation.
Fortunately, you can remove plaque by brushing and flossing. It’s a daily back and forth battle with plaque, but it’s an easy one to win. But if you get lazy with your home hygiene, plaque stays on your teeth and hardens into tartar. It can form in a little over a day, and once it’s there, only a dentist or dental hygienist can remove it.
Six ways to keep tartar in the sauce, not your mouth
Since we don’t like tartar, here are six tips for keeping it off of your pearly whites:
- Brush twice a day for two minutes. A cursory 45-second job won’t get rid of all the plaque. Be thorough, covering all the tooth surfaces.
- Electronic toothbrushes may do a better job than manual effort. The American Dental Association (ADA) just approved a series of Oral B electric toothbrushes — the first electrics to gain vaunted ADA approval.
- Use tartar-control toothpaste with fluoride. These can help prevent the plaque from hardening into tartar. Plus, the fluoride helps return necessary minerals to the teeth.
- Floss. Flossing is the only way to remove plaque between your teeth and keep tartar from forming in hard-to-reach places.
- Watch what you eat. Starchy and sugary foods make the bacteria in your mouth happy. When they eat the byproducts of these foods in your mouth, they release harmful acids that can lead to tooth decay. You don’t have to stop eating anything sweet, but just take it easy, and drink water after you do.
- Don’t smoke or quit if you do. Studies show that smokers are more likely to have tartar on their teeth.
The moral of this story? Ditch the tartar sauce and start eating better fish. And take care of your home hygiene and ditch the tartar that’s trying to build up on your teeth. Plus, schedule your twice-yearly cleanings and exams with us at Prosthodontics of New York. Contact us at (212) 758-9690.