The Dangers of Plaque and Tartar
When you run your tongue across your teeth and feel a soft film covering the teeth, you are feeling a nasty substance called plaque. When we brush our teeth, it is this plaque that we are trying to get rid of.
But why is it so important that we remove plaque as quickly as possible?
Put simply, plaque is very bad for your teeth and gums. Failing to take care of your oral health can lead to a build up of plaque resulting in yellow teeth, halitosis and gingivitis. Not only that but the effects of plaque can even extend to other parts of the body and is linked to serious diseases including dementia and heart disease.
What is Plaque?
Your mouth is home to millions of tiny bacteria. If you fail to take good care of your teeth and eradicate this bacteria, it will result in the formation of a soft film called plaque. Plaque is basically the film in which your oral bacteria lives and thrives.
How Plaque Forms
Plaque is forming constantly on your teeth. Whenever you eat, the food is broken down allowing bacteria to make a feast of the simple sugars. Just like larger organisms, after feasting, the bacteria has to excrete its meal. This waste product is what leads to a range of oral issues like tooth decay, cavities, bad breath and gum disease.
It is essential to remove any plaque as soon as possible. If you fail to remove it within 48 hours, it begins to calcify making it almost impossible to remove by regular brushing and flossing. The calcified plaque is known as tartar.
If you have ever suffered from bleeding gums, the cause was likely tartar under the gums. Both plaque and tartar can irritate the gums causing them to swell. This is known as gingivitis and will typically require dental treatment.
Making sure that you get rid of plaque at the earliest stage possible is essential to avoid further complications. The most important preventive measure is good dental hygiene and it is essential that you brush your teeth thoroughly with a good quality toothbrush. Apart from brushing your teeth well and often, there are also a number of other home remedies that can help.
How to Remove Plaque and Tartar Naturally
1) Floss Regularly
Flossing regularly is one of the best ways to prevent the build up of plaque and tartar. It is important that you not only floss on a regular basis but also take the time to floss effectively. It can help prevent the buildup of plaque but is also an effective method of removing the plaque that regular brushing can not deal with.
2) Baking Soda
Baking soda is known for whitening the teeth but it is also an excellent remedy to get rid of stubborn plaque. It helps to neutralize the acids in your mouth which in turn reduces the harmful oral bacteria.
Studies have revealed that toothpastes containing baking soda were more effective in removing plaque than products without baking soda as an ingredient. You can buy toothpaste with baking soda added or simply use baking soda to brush your teeth.
- Wet your toothbrush and dip it into some baking soda so it covers the bristles.
- Brush your teeth with the powder and rinse thoroughly with fresh water.
- Repeat 3 times a week.
Alternatively, you can combine your baking soda with some 3% food grade hydrogen peroxide and mix it into a paste. Use this paste to brush your teeth.
3) Oil Pulling
You may not be familiar with oil pulling but it is a method of cleaning the teeth that has been used for centuries. It is regarded as an excellent way to maintain your oral health and remove stubborn plaque.
Oil pulling can be done with various oils but studies show that coconut oil is especially effective. Virgin coconut oil is rich in lauric acid which has excellent antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Take a tablespoon of coconut oil and swish it around the mouth for 10 minutes.
- Do not gargle or swallow the oil.
- After 10 minutes or so, spit the oil out and brush as normal.
- Repeat this remedy every morning before breakfast.
4) Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is best known for its skin health benefits but its antimicrobial properties also make it an effective natural remedy for tartar and plaque. Not only that but aloe vera can also help general oral health and fight halitosis.
One study published in 2014 found that aloe vera compared favorably with a popular commercial mouthwash when it came to treating plaque and gum disease. (1)
- Extract the gel from a fresh ale vera leaf.
- Rub the gel directly into the teeth and the gum line.
- Let it work for ten minutes or so then rinse off with water.
- Repeat the remedy once or twice daily.
Cloves have long been used for various oral issues including toothache. Clove essential oil is a popular oral remedy but you can also use ground cloves. Cloves have antimicrobial properties that can help fight the bacteria that causes a plaque build-up.
One study published in 2014 found that a rinse made with clove oil combined with basil and tea tree essential oils helped to significantly reduce the microbial colonies in the mouth. They concluded that this combination of oils was effective for oral health including plaque removal and gingivitis. (2)
- Mix a teaspoon of powdered cloves with some olive oil.
- Rub the mixture onto the teeth and gum line.
- Let it sit for 5 minutes or so before rinsing your mouth out.
- You can also make a mouthwash with a few drops of clove essential oil and water but be careful not to swallow any of the oil.
Guava leaves and the fruit itself can be used to treat oral issues like plaque and gum disease. As well as their antimicrobial properties, guava leaves and fruit possess analgesic and anti-inflammatory actions that can help relieve pain and swelling in your gums.
A study published in 2014 found that an extract made with guava leaves helped reduce the adhesion during the early stages of plaque. (3)
- Simply chew on some fresh guava leaves for ten minutes or so before spitting them out.
- You can also use a mouthwash containing guava leaf extract.
While apple cider vinegar takes most of the headlines, ordinary white vinegar also contains certain health benefits. One of these is the ability to treat a buildup of plaque. Vinegar also helps to prevent the loss of enamel on the teeth and is a simple, cheap and convenient home remedy.
- Dissolve a tablespoon of salt into a quarter cup of warm water and add two tablespoons of white vinegar.
- Mix well and use it to rinse out your mouth thoroughly several times a day.
8) Essential Oils
Certain essential oils can be used as part of a mouthwash to treat oral health in general but also to prevent and eradicate plaque.
Some of the best essential oils for treating plaque and tartar include rosemary, tea tree, clove and thyme essential oil. They all have powerful antibacterial properties that help to eliminate the bacteria feeding on your teeth.
- Add two or three drops of your chosen essential oils to a glass of water.
- Stir well then use the mixture as a mouthwash once or twice each day.
- Be careful not to swallow any of the mixture.