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Can tartar come off your teeth?

Tartar is a common problem that many people face when it comes to oral hygiene. It is a hard, yellowish deposit that forms on the teeth and can be quite stubborn to remove. Once tartar has formed on your teeth, there’s no budging it without risking damage to your teeth or gums. In this article, we will explore the persistence of tartar on teeth and why it requires professional removal. We will also discuss some preventive measures to avoid tartar buildup and the consequences of leaving tartar untreated.

Can tartar come off your teeth?

Explanation of the permanence of tartar on teeth

Tartar forms when plaque, a sticky film of bacteria and food particles, hardens and calcifies on the teeth. Unlike plaque, which can be removed by regular brushing and flossing, tartar is firmly attached to the tooth surface. Its rough texture creates a favorable environment for more plaque to accumulate, leading to further dental issues.

Once tartar has formed, it cannot be removed by brushing alone. The stubborn nature of tartar requires professional dental intervention to effectively remove it. Dental professionals use specialized tools and techniques to scrape away the tartar from the teeth without causing harm.

Potential risks of trying to remove tartar at home

While it may be tempting to try removing tartar at home, it is crucial to understand the potential risks involved. Using sharp objects or excessive force to scrape off tartar can damage the enamel of your teeth or irritate your gums. This can lead to tooth sensitivity, gum recession, and even infection.

Moreover, attempting to remove tartar without proper knowledge and tools may result in incomplete removal. Even if you manage to scrape off some tartar, there may still be remnants left behind that can continue to contribute to oral health problems.

Need for professional removal of tartar

Professional removal of tartar, also known as dental scaling and polishing, is essential to ensure the complete eradication of tartar from your teeth. Dental professionals have the expertise and proper tools to remove tartar effectively, minimizing the risk of damage to your teeth and gums.

During a scaling and polishing procedure, dental professionals use manual scraping tools or ultrasonic scalers to carefully remove the tartar, plaque, and bacteria from the tooth surfaces and below the gumline. Afterward, the teeth are polished to smoothen the surfaces and reduce the likelihood of future plaque buildup.

Prevention of tartar buildup at home

Regular brushing and flossing

One of the most crucial steps in preventing tartar buildup is maintaining a regular oral hygiene routine. Brushing your teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste helps remove plaque and prevent its hardening into tartar. It is vital to use a soft-bristled toothbrush and brush in gentle, circular motions to avoid damaging your teeth and gums.

Flossing daily is equally important to clean the areas between your teeth that your toothbrush cannot reach. By removing food particles and plaque from these hard-to-reach areas, you can help prevent tartar formation.

Use of tartar control toothpaste

Using a toothpaste specifically formulated for tartar control can be an effective preventive measure. These toothpastes contain ingredients like pyrophosphates that help to inhibit tartar formation. However, it is important to note that tartar control toothpaste cannot remove existing tartar and should be used in combination with professional dental cleanings.

Importance of proper dental hygiene routine

In addition to regular brushing and flossing, maintaining proper dental hygiene practices is essential in preventing tartar buildup. This includes rinsing with mouthwash to reduce bacteria in the mouth, avoiding tobacco products, and limiting sugary and acidic foods and beverages that can contribute to plaque formation.

Regular dental check-ups

Regular dental check-ups and professional cleanings are key in preventing tartar buildup and maintaining oral health. Dental professionals can detect and remove early signs of plaque and tartar, preventing them from progressing into more severe issues. They can also provide personalized recommendations on oral hygiene practices and assess your risk for dental problems.

Professional removal of tartar

Process of dental scaling and polishing

Dental scaling and polishing is a routine dental procedure performed by dental hygienists or dentists. It involves the removal of tartar, plaque, and stains from the teeth to promote optimal oral health. The process typically begins with a thorough examination of the teeth and gums to assess the extent of tartar buildup and any signs of dental issues.

The dental professional will then use specialized tools, such as scalers or ultrasonic devices, to carefully scrape away the tartar from the tooth surfaces and below the gumline. This process may require multiple appointments, depending on the severity of the tartar buildup.

Tools and techniques used by dental professionals

Dental professionals use a variety of tools and techniques during the scaling and polishing procedure. Manual scalers consist of handheld instruments with different shapes and sizes of hooked ends that allow for precise scraping of tartar. Ultrasonic scalers use high-frequency vibrations to remove tartar and plaque, making the process more efficient and comfortable for the patient.

After the tartar removal, the dental professional will proceed with polishing the teeth using a rotating brush or rubber cup with a gritty toothpaste-like substance. This helps smoothen the tooth surfaces, making it more difficult for plaque to adhere and minimizing the likelihood of future tartar formation.

Frequency of professional cleanings

The frequency of professional dental cleanings may vary depending on individual oral health needs. In general, it is recommended to have a dental cleaning every six months. However, for individuals with a higher risk of tartar buildup or other dental issues, more frequent cleanings may be necessary. Your dentist or dental hygienist can provide personalized recommendations based on your oral health status.

Consequences of not removing tartar

Potential for gum disease and tooth decay

Leaving tartar untreated can lead to serious oral health problems, such as gum disease (periodontitis) and tooth decay. Tartar, along with the bacteria it harbors, irritates and inflames the gums, causing them to become red, swollen, and prone to bleeding. Over time, gum disease can progress, leading to gum recession, bone loss, and even tooth loss.

Moreover, tartar can create a protective barrier for bacteria, allowing them to thrive and produce acids that attack the tooth enamel. This can result in tooth decay, cavities, and the need for dental restorations such as fillings or dental crowns.

Development of dental plaque and its impact on oral health

Tartar acts as a magnet for plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on the teeth. The rough surface of tartar provides an ideal breeding ground for plaque bacteria, leading to a higher risk of dental plaque accumulation. Plaque is a major contributor to cavities, gum disease, and bad breath, necessitating regular removal through brushing, flossing, and professional cleanings.

Other complications associated with untreated tartar

Untreated tartar can also have indirect effects on general health. Research has shown links between poor oral health, including tartar buildup, and certain systemic conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and respiratory problems. While these associations require further investigation, maintaining good oral hygiene and seeking professional dental care play a vital role in overall well-being.


In conclusion, tartar is a persistent problem that cannot be removed through regular brushing alone. Once tartar has formed on your teeth, it requires professional dental intervention to be effectively removed. Attempting to remove tartar at home can lead to potential risks and incomplete removal, making regular dental cleanings essential for maintaining oral health.

Preventive measures, such as regular brushing and flossing, using tartar control toothpaste, adhering to proper dental hygiene routines, and scheduling regular dental check-ups, can help prevent tartar buildup. By taking these steps and seeking professional dental care, you can ensure the removal of tartar and minimize the risk of dental issues associated with its presence.

Remember, your oral health is crucial not only for your smile but also for your overall well-being. So, make tartar removal a priority for a healthier and happier mouth.


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