Removing plaque and tartar from teeth

By: Jamie Eske, Medical News Today

The buildup of plaque tartar on the teeth can cause bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease. However, several simple home remedies can help treat and prevent plaque and tartar. Learn them via Medical News Today! The Woodview Oral Surgery Team

Plaque is a soft, sticky film that builds up on the outside of the teeth and along the gum line. A person can often prevent and treat plaque buildup at home. If a person does not practice good dental hygiene, plaque can turn into a hard yellow-brown substance called tartar.

When people eat, bacteria in the mouth breakdown the carbohydrates from food into acid, which mixes with leftover food particles and saliva to create plaque.

Brushing and flossing often prevent plaque and tartar from forming. However, tartar can be more difficult to remove and sometimes requires a visit to the dentist’s office for a professional cleaning.

Poor oral hygiene can also cause bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease (gingivitis). Recent research has also uncovered possible associations between gum disease and other health conditions, including pneumoniadementia, and heart disease.

In this article, learn about simple ways to remove plaque and prevent tartar buildup at home.

Practicing good oral hygiene

Practicing good oral hygiene is the best way to remove plaque and tartar. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommend brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. They also recommend flossing once a day.

Flossing first will remove pieces of food and plaque from between the teeth and hard-to-reach areas. After flossing, the toothbrush will remove plaque on the surface of the teeth.

To brush the teeth effectively, a person can:

  1. Start in the back of the mouth with the top molars.
  2. Use short, circular brush strokes.
  3. Brush the front and back surfaces of all the upper teeth.
  4. Repeat steps 1–3 on the bottom teeth.

People can achieve great results using manual toothbrushes. However, a 2014 systematic reviewfound that electric toothbrushes, especially those with oscillating heads, are more effective at removing plaque and reducing gingivitis.

After flossing and brushing the teeth, rinse out the mouth with mouthwash. Many over-the-counter mouthwashes contain fluoride for extra protection against plaque.

People who have gingivitis may require a stronger type of mouthwash. A dentist or another healthcare provider can prescribe antiseptic mouthwashes that are more potent than those available over the counter.

Brushing with baking soda

Brushing with baking soda is a safe and effective way to remove plaque. Baking soda can remove plaque without damaging the enamel.

Studies suggest that toothpaste that contains baking soda may be more effective at reducing the amount of plaque in the mouth than traditional toothpaste.

Baking soda also protects against demineralization, which is a chemical process that removes calcium from tooth enamel.

Carbohydrates from food can drastically lower the pH level in the mouth, creating an acidic environment that causes demineralization.

Scientists measure the acidity of a substance using the pH scale. The lower the pH, the more acidic the substance.

The lower limit for enamel pH ranges between 5.1 and 5.5. When the pH drops below this range, demineralization begins to occur.

Baking soda reduces demineralization because it has a high pH, which can help balance the pH level inside the mouth and prevent enamel loss.

The mouth is home to a diverse ecosystem of bacteria, some of which are beneficial while others can be harmful. Streptococcus mutans, for example, is the bacteria primarily responsible for tooth decay.

Baking soda also has antimicrobial properties that may prevent tooth decay. Research suggests that baking soda can significantly reduce the amount of S. mutans.

People can find baking soda in many grocery stores and online.

Oil pulling with coconut oil

Oil pulling is an easy way to remove bacteria from the mouth and improve oral health.

Coconut oil is ideal for oil pulling because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Coconut oil also contains lauric acid, a fatty acid with antimicrobial properties.

2015 study involving 60 adolescents with gingivitis found that oil pulling with coconut oil resulted in a 50 percent decrease in dental plaque.

The study participants also experienced a significant decrease in gingivitis symptoms. The researchers believe this was due to the reduction in dental plaque.

To oil pull, a person should:

  1. Place 1 tablespoon of warm coconut oil in the mouth.
  2. Swish the coconut oil around the mouth for 5–10 minutes.
  3. Spit out the coconut oil into a trash can or a paper towel.

A person should avoid spitting the coconut oil into the sink, as it may clog the pipes.

Coconut oil is available for purchase in some health food stores and online.

Other effective oils for oil pulling include:

  • olive oil
  • almond oil
  • sesame oil

Prevention

The best way to prevent the buildup of plaque and tartar on the teeth is by flossing once a day and brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.

Regular dental checkups and professional cleanings can also help prevent and treat oral health problems.

Dentists examine the whole mouth, checking for signs of tooth decay and gum disease. They will also remove any plaque or tartar on the surface of the teeth and in difficult-to-reach places. Dentists can also treat the teeth with fluoride to help prevent tooth decay.

If a dentist notices any cavities or signs of gum inflammation, they will recommend ways to reduce symptoms and prevent further damage. They may prescribe medical mouthwash or suggest adjusting a person’s oral hygiene routine.

Dietary changes can also help prevent plaque and tartar buildup. Cutting back on sugar, starch, and acidic foods can reduce the risk of tooth decay.

To reduce the risk of plaque and tartar, a person should avoid:

  • cookies, cake, and candy
  • starchy or sugary foods that can stick to the teeth, such as bread, potato chips, and some dried fruits
  • soda and sports drinks
  • citrus juices

Summary

The buildup of plaque and tartar on the teeth can lead to gum disease, enamel loss, and tooth decay.

Poor oral hygiene may also play a role in the development of other health conditions.

Brushing twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste and flossing once daily are the best ways to remove plaque from teeth and prevent tartar from forming.

Other home remedies that can remove plaque include oil pulling and brushing the teeth with baking soda.

Visiting a dentist for regular checkups and cleanings is another essential step for maintaining good oral hygiene.

For people with an excessive plaque or severe gum disease, a dentist may also recommend prescription-strength mouthwashes or changes to the person’s oral care routine.

Source: bit.ly/plaquetartar

What can cause gum pain?

By: Rachel Nall RN MSN, Medical News Today

The gums are soft, fleshy tissue that supports and protects the teeth. Gum pain can be a sign of irritation, infection, or injury to the gums and teeth.

Medical News Today discussed some of the possible causes of gum pain, treatment, home remedies, prevention, and when to see us! The Woodview Oral Surgery Team

Causes

Gum pain can range from a minor irritation to severe and debilitating. Some potential causes of gum pain include:

  • Canker sores: These are small, painful ulcers that can occur on the gums. Causes of canker sores can include emotional stress, mouth injuries, an impaired immune system, or other underlying health conditions.
  • Cuts or injuries: Food and objects that enter the mouth can sometimes cause minor cuts or injuries to the gums and teeth. A person may also accidentally bite down on the gums, which can sometimes cause pain and bleeding.
  • Gum disease: Also known as gingivitis, this condition occurs when bacteria build up under the gums and cause inflammation and bleeding. Without treatment, gingivitis can develop into periodontitis and lead to loose teeth. People who smoke are at a higher risk for gum disease than nonsmokers.
  • Hormonal changes: Hormonal fluctuations, especially during pregnancy, can cause a person to experience swelling, pain, and bleeding in the gums.
  • Improper flossing or brushing techniques: Brushing or flossing too vigorously or frequently can sometimes cause the gums to bleed and be painful.
  • Sinusitis: A bacterial or viral infection in the sinuses can cause swelling of the sinus cavity. Some people with sinusitis also experience gum pain and toothache.
  • Tooth abscess: A bacterial infection in the root of a tooth can cause an abscess or pus-filled sac. Tooth abscesses can lead to gum swelling and pain. They can also be serious and spread to other parts of the body, so it is essential to see a dentist quickly.

Treatment

Treatment for gum pain depends upon the underlying cause.

For people with gum disease, for example, a dentist may recommend professional cleaning to remove plaque and tartar from the gums. They may also prescribe an antibacterial mouthwash, such as one containing alcohol or chlorhexidine, to kill excess bacteria and prevent the future build up of plaque.

If a person has severe gum disease, a dentist may recommend surgery to repair bone or gum loss that the condition has caused. Sometimes, this can include bone and tissue grafting to encourage the growth of new, healthy tissue.

People with tooth abscesses may require root canal treatment. During this procedure, a dentist will remove the infected pulp, or soft tissue inside the tooth, and the abscess from the root and then repair and seal the damaged tooth.

Gum pain due to sinusitis usually lessens once the infection clears up. For bacterial infections, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics.

Home remedies

People with gum pain that they cannot explain should see their dentist for a checkup. However, some simple home remedies may help relieve the discomfort. These include:

  • Gargling salt water. A person can prepare a gargle by mixing 1 teaspoon of salt with 8 ounces of warm water.
  • Clove oil. Applying clove oil to gums can reduce pain and swelling.
  • Pain medication. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can help to reduce gum pain.
  • Brushing carefully. Brush sore, swollen, or bleeding areas of the gums gently.

Avoiding foods that can irritate or scratch the gums may also help while they are healing. Examples include:

  • acidic foods, such as citrus fruits and tomatoes
  • sharp or scratchy foods, such as chips, nuts, or pretzels
  • spicy foods, such as those containing chilis or other hot peppers

For people with canker sores, taking vitamin and mineral supplements, such as iron and vitamin B-12, may help reduce gum pain.

Prevention

Good oral hygiene can help prevent gum pain and other dental issues. This includes:

  • brushing teeth twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste for at least 2 minutes
  • flossing once daily
  • using a dental mouthwash daily
  • having regular checkups with a dentist, such as every 6 months

If a person stops smoking, this can also improve gum health. Smoking can reduce blood flow to the gums, which may impair healing and lead to discomfort.

When to see a dentist

It is advisable for people with severe, persistent, or recurring gum pain to see a dentist for a checkup.

A dentist can examine the gums, teeth, and mouth for signs of infection, tooth decay, and other dental issues.

A person may also want to consider seeing a dentist if the pain occurs alongside any of the following symptoms:

  • bad breath that does not improve with tooth brushing
  • bleeding gums
  • gums that are receding
  • loose teeth
  • pain when chewing
  • red gums
  • sensitive teeth

Summary

There are many possible causes of gum pain, including gum disease, infections, abscesses, and ulcers.

People with gum pain they cannot explain may wish to consider seeing a dentist for a checkup. Without treatment, some causes of gum pain can lead to tooth decay or tooth loss.

Home remedies for gum pain include applying clove oil to gums, rinsing the mouth with salt water, and avoiding irritating foods.

Source: bit.ly/gum-pain