Tooth Tartar: What You Need to Know

In this article

In this article

Tooth tartar, also known as calculus, is a common dental problem affecting millions worldwide. Tartar is a hard, yellow, or brown deposit that forms on the teeth and can lead to various oral health problems, including gum disease and tooth decay. Despite being preventable with proper dental hygiene, tartar is a persistent problem that can be challenging to remove once it has formed. This article will discuss the causes and complications of tartar and various preventive measures and treatments.

What is tooth tartar?

Tooth tartar is a persistent and unsightly deposit that can form on the teeth and gums. Unlike plaque, which is a soft and sticky film of bacteria that can be easily removed with regular brushing and flossing, tartar is a hardened deposit that requires professional cleaning to remove. Tartar is formed when plaque is not adequately removed and is allowed to harden and calcify on the teeth.

Causes of tartar formation

Tartar formation can be attributed to various causes contributing to plaque buildup on teeth.

Poor dental hygiene

Poor dental hygiene is one of the significant causes of tartar formation. When teeth are not brushed or flossed regularly, food particles and bacteria remain on teeth, creating an environment where plaque can thrive. Over time, this plaque hardens into tartar, which only a dentist can remove.

Plaque buildup

Plaque buildup is another major cause of tartar formation. When plaque is not removed regularly, it accumulates on teeth, eventually hardening into tartar. This process is accelerated in hard-to-clean areas around the gum line or between teeth.

Saliva production

It is another factor leading to tartar formation. Saliva contains minerals such as calcium that can contribute to the formation of tartar. Additionally, when saliva production is low, bacteria are more likely to thrive in the mouth, increasing plaque buildup and eventually tartar.

Dietary habits

Diet and lifestyle habits can also contribute to the formation of tartar. Diets high in sugar and carbohydrates can increase the production of bacteria in the mouth, leading to more plaque and tartar formation. Smoking and other tobacco can also contribute to tartar formation, as tobacco can irritate the gums and increase plaque production.


Symptoms of tartar buildup can vary in severity from person to person. Some individuals may experience more severe symptoms, while others may experience fewer or less noticeable symptoms. Here are the common symptoms associated with tartar buildup:

Appearance and texture of tartar

Tartar buildup can vary in appearance and texture. It often appears as a yellow or brownish deposit on the teeth. The texture of tartar can also be rough or bumpy, which can make brushing or flossing more difficult.

Risks and complications

Gum disease

Tartar buildup can have a significant impact on gum health. It can lead to gingivitis, an early stage of gum disease. If left unaddressed, gingivitis can progress into periodontitis, a more severe form of gum disease. Periodontitis can cause damage to the teeth, gums, and bone structure supporting the teeth, eventually resulting in tooth loss.

Bad breath

Tartar buildup can also cause bad breath, as the bacteria present in the tartar release gases that have an unpleasant odor.

Cavities and tooth decay

Tartar buildup can also cause tooth decay, cavities, sensitivity, and gum recession as the bacteria in the tartar release acids that erode the tooth enamel. Once you have tooth cavities, you may have no other choice but to get dental fillings to avoid further complications.

Tartar prevention and treatment

Effective dental hygiene practices

Effective oral hygiene practices are the keystone of tartar prevention. It is essential to brush your teeth twice daily, floss at least once a day, and use mouthwash regularly. Brushing your teeth properly involves using fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush. You should hold the brush at a 45-degree angle to your teeth and brush in a circular motion. It is important to brush all surfaces of your teeth, including the backs of your teeth and your tongue. 

tooth tartar

Professional dental cleaning

Professional dental cleaning is another essential step in preventing tartar buildup. It is recommended that individuals visit their dentist at least twice a year to undergo a dental cleaning. During this procedure, a dental professional, such as a dentist or dental hygienist, will remove any accumulated plaque and tartar on the teeth. Additionally, they will polish the teeth to eliminate any surface stains and advise on improving your oral hygiene practices. 

Tartar control toothpaste and mouthwash

Tartar-control toothpaste and mouthwash can also help prevent tartar buildup. These products contain unique ingredients that help prevent the formation of tartar on your teeth. They also help to kill bacteria that can cause gum disease and bad breath. It is important to note that tartar control toothpaste and mouthwash are not a substitute for professional dental cleanings and effective dental hygiene practices.

Dietary changes and other lifestyle habits

Making dietary changes and other lifestyle habits can also help prevent tartar buildup. You should limit your sugary and starchy foods intake, as these can contribute to plaque buildup on your teeth. Instead, you should eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Drinking plenty of water can also help to flush away food particles and bacteria from your mouth.

In terms of treatment, professional dental cleaning is the most effective way to remove tartar buildup. Your dentist or dental hygienist will use special tools to scrape the tartar off your teeth. This process is known as scaling. They may also use a technique called root planning to smooth out the roots of your teeth and help prevent future tartar buildup.

Home remedies

Home remedies are an alternative way to prevent and remove tartar buildup. Although they are not a substitute for professional dental care, some people prefer natural remedies to complement their dental hygiene practices. Here are some common home remedies for tartar removal:

Oil pulling

This ancient practice involves swishing a tablespoon of oil in your mouth for a couple of minutes before spitting it out. Coconut, sesame, and sunflower oils are popular choices. The oil helps to loosen the tartar from the teeth and gums, making it easier to remove.

Baking soda and hydrogen peroxide

Baking soda is an effective yet gentle abrasive that can assist in removing surface stains and plaque from the teeth. Mix a small amount of baking soda with hydrogen peroxide to create a baking soda paste. Brush your teeth with this paste for 2 minutes. After brushing, rinse your mouth thoroughly with water to remove any remaining paste. Excessive use of baking soda can lead to enamel erosion, so only use this method once or twice a week as part of your oral hygiene routine. 

White vinegar

Vinegar has antibacterial properties that can help reduce the number of bacteria in the mouth. To create a homemade mouthwash:

  • Mix two tablespoons of white vinegar with one spoonful of salt in a glass of warm water.
  • Use the mixture to swish your mouth for 30 seconds before spitting it out.
  • After spitting, rinse your mouth with water to remove any remaining residue.

Vinegar and salt can help to remove bacteria and neutralize odors in the mouth.

Fruit peels and other natural remedies

Some people believe rubbing orange, lemon, or banana peels on their teeth can help remove tartar. While no scientific evidence supports this claim, these fruits contain vitamin C, which is important for gum health. Rub the inside of an orange, lemon, or banana peel on your teeth for 2-3 minutes. Rinse your mouth with water and spit it out.


Tartar is a serious dental issue that can cause many complications, including gum disease, tooth decay, and bad breath. While several home remedies and lifestyle changes can help prevent and treat tartar buildup, professional dental cleanings remain the most effective way to maintain good oral health and prevent tartar.

At Stellar Dental, we provide comprehensive dental services, including regular cleanings and preventative care, to ensure your teeth remain healthy and free of tartar. Our team of highly skilled dental professionals is dedicated to providing the highest quality care. If you’re looking for a reliable and experienced dental clinic for all your dental needs, look no further than Stellar Dental. Book an appointment today and take a step towards a healthier, brighter smile!

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