Kate's Fear of TMJ

3 Ways To Limit Plaque And Tartar Buildup

Plaque is the colorless, tooth-decaying mixture of bacteria and food particles that often feels like fuzz on your teeth and gums. If you don't properly brush and floss, plaque can be left in place long enough to harden into tartar, which can only be removed by a professional dental cleaning.

Still, plaque and tartar buildup is avoidable. Here are a few ways to limit the accumulation of these unhealthy substances:

Brush and Floss


Brushing your teeth twice daily—once in the morning and then again in the evening—promotes a clean mouth and scours away plaque.

Here are a few brushing tips:

  • Brush for two minutes in a circular motion, paying attention to your gums and the area behind your back molars.
  • Using a soft-bristled brush can help you clear away plaque without damaging your tooth enamel. Brushing with a smaller head helps you comfortably access the tight spaces around your back teeth.
  • Opting for toothpaste that contains fluoride will help remineralize your tooth enamel as you brush.
  • Change your toothbrush every three months to avoid bacteria buildup.


Floss at least once a day, preferably in the evening, to remove food particles.  Be sure to slide the floss up and down along the sides of your teeth, as opposed to using a sawing motion.

Use Mouthwash

After you brush in the evenings, it's a good idea to use an antibacterial mouthwash that contains chlorhexidine. It can kill bacteria and discourage plaque development in oral crevices that your toothbrush and floss can't reach.

It is best not to use an alcohol-based mouthwash, as it dries out your mouth and can cause oral sores if used persistently.

A cheap and effective homemade mouthwash can be made by mixing one part water and one part 3-percent hydrogen peroxide. Swish through your teeth for one to two minutes and spit.

Eat Healthy

There are many foods that help keep your teeth strong and healthy. Eating raw, fibrous fruits and vegetables like carrots, apples and strawberries help clean your teeth as you chew and provides vitamins essential for oral health.  

Try to avoid sticky, sugary snacks that feed oral bacteria and encourage them to multiply. Instead, have a handful of nuts or a glass of low-fat milk. Not only are they good for your overall health, but they provide calcium to help remineralize teeth.

To keep your teeth free of plaque and tartar, it is also important to have them professionally cleaned by your dentist at least once every six months. If you have not had a recent dental cleaning, contact a dentist in your area to schedule an appointment.