Even if you’re not entirely sure what dental plaque and tartar are, you’ve probably heard that they’re bad news and best avoided. However, it’s always helpful to know what you’re fighting against.

Plaque is a sticky biofilm that forms when leftover food particles stick to teeth and bacteria use them for fuel. Plaque is constantly forming in the mouth, which is why due diligence when it comes to daily dental care is so important. Over time, plaque can begin to harden and turn into tartar, or calculus, a scaly substance that can negatively impact the appearance and health of your teeth.

If plaque and tartar are allowed to develop and extend below the gum line, you could not only experience unsightly staining of teeth and irritation of the gums, but you could suffer serious health concerns like gum disease and tooth decay. How can you prevent this? Here are a few easy ways to reduce dental plaque and tartar.

AT-HOME CARE

The best place to start is with your at-home care regimen. Since plaque can build up throughout the course of the day and begin to develop into tartar within several days, it’s extremely important to brush, floss, and rinse with mouthwash daily to remove leftover food particles and kill harmful bacteria. Ideally, you should clean teeth after every meal, but proper cleaning at least twice a day is a must.

DIET

It probably won’t come as a shock to you that the foods and beverages you ingest can affect your oral health. What you need to know is that certain items are a lot more likely to cause plaque and tartar buildup.

The biggest culprit is sugar. Not only does it stick to teeth, attacking enamel and creating an ideal surface for plaque, but it is also a great food source for bacteria. Avoiding sugary snacks, beverages like soda, and excess carbohydrates could significantly reduce plaque formation in your mouth.

If you want to snack, skip the processed sweets and opt instead for the natural sugar of apples or carrots. Crunchy fruits and veggies can satisfy your sweet tooth and scrub your teeth at the same time, helping to reduce plaque. You should also consider setting the soda aside in favor of water that helps to flush away food and bacteria.

PROFESSIONAL CARE

You can do a lot on your own to stave off plaque and tartar buildup, but you still need professional dental checkup and cleaning to ensure you get between teeth and below the gum line. A multi-faceted approach that includes both at-home and professional care is the best way to ensure optimal oral health.

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