If it's been a while since your last trip to the dentist, you're not alone. Most people in this country only see the dentist about every three years. However, there's a good chance your teeth have suffered because of this neglect. Inconsistent oral hygiene, accompanied by irregular dental visits, leads to plaque buildup on your teeth and gums. In fact, only 50.5% of Americans floss every day, and 18.5% don't floss at all; overall, a whopping 80% of people have some form of periodontal disease. If you allow as short a time as 24 hours to elapse without brushing your teeth, plaque can turn into tartar, which is a hard substance also called calculus. It is the material your hygienist scrapes away with a metal tool when you have your teeth cleaned. However, there are do-it-yourself ways to remove tartar. Here are the most common methods for getting calculus off your teeth.
1. Baking soda
Baking soda is naturally abrasive, and abrasion is exactly what's necessary to remove tartar. Use one teaspoon of baking soda and mix it with just enough water to make a paste. Brush as you normally would, giving careful attention to both the front and back of each tooth. Rinse with water.
Peroxide's bubbling action loosens tartar particles from your teeth. Mix three tablespoons of three percent hydrogen peroxide with one tablespoon of antiseptic mouthwash. Swish this mixture around in your mouth, making sure to coat all areas of your teeth and gums, and then gargle (you will probably note that the mixture foams at this point). When done, spit the concoction out. Do not swallow, as peroxide can cause vomiting.
3. Sesame seeds
Chew a handful of sesame seeds, but instead of swallowing them, take a swig of water and then brush your teeth with the gravelly substance. The seeds act as an abrasive, dislodging tartar and polishing your teeth at the same time.
4. Tomatoes, oranges, or strawberries
All three of these fruits are high in citric acid, which prevents tartar formation. Cut the fruit of your choice up and rub the juice on your teeth. Let it stand about five minutes, rinsing with a baking soda/water mixture when the time is up.
Eat three or four figs slowly, allowing the saliva naturally created by this process to coat your teeth and gums. The mixture of the figs with your saliva will dislodge tartar from your teeth.
Cautionary note: there are how-to articles about removing tartar by using a metal tooth scraper, similar to the tool a dental hygienist uses. However, this do-it-yourself method may cause more harm than good, as you can easily cut your gums if the tool slips or you apply too much pressure.
These home remedies may be all you need to remove the tartar that is creating a yellow-brown tinge to your teeth.
If you find, however, that your tartar needs more intensive treatment, make an appointment with your family dentist. An intensive cleaning procedure called root planing and scraping can remove the built-up tartar once and for all, giving you a fresh start. It involves cleaning between the teeth and the gums all the way down to the root. Root planing and scraping is usually done in two visits so as to concentrate on one side of the mouth at a time. Your dentist may numb your mouth prior to the procedure, as it can be uncomfortable.
Once your mouth is free of tartar, whether through home remedies or professional dentistry, make sure to prevent its return. Brush after each meal with an electronic toothbrush, floss daily, and see your family dentist twice a year for a cleaning and exam.