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Most of us know the basics of keeping our mouth healthy and clean. But what happens if you let your routine slip and build-up occurs?  

A calculus problem happens--and we aren't talking about math!

So, what is calculus and how can you avoid it without going to the dentist? Keep reading and we’ll fill you in on everything you need to know.

What is Calculus?

Even the mouths of those with the most sparkling oral care routines contain bacteria. When this bacteria combines with proteins and food residue, it creates plaque, a sticky substance which clings to teeth, gums, and all the spaces in-between. 

Dental calculus, also known as tartar, is a hard deposit resulting from plaque that is left unmanaged for long periods of time according to The Dental Essentials.

Why Does Calculus Need to be Removed?

According to the National Library of Medicine, dental calculus occurs in the majority of adults worldwide. So why is it a big deal? 

While not all bacteria is bad, the bacteria carried by plaque can damage the enamel of your teeth and lead to cavities, permanent tooth decay or even gum disease.

As you now know, the occurrence of calculus signifies the long term occurrence of plaque build-up on your teeth, which can cause inflammation of the gums and eventually tooth decay. Failure to remove this build-up can result in bad breath as well as other major dental issues down the road, like receding gums or gum disease. 

How to Determine if You Have Build-up 

Recognizing plaque deposits on your teeth is really simple. Just place a few drops of food-coloring into water, gargle, and spit it out. The colorful liquid will remain on your teeth, highlighting any patches of plaque that may be lingering inside your mouth. 

Ways to Remove Plaque Build-Up 

Now that we’ve covered what calculus is and why it’s no good for your teeth, let’s talk about build-up removal. 

Read through these ways to remove unwanted build-up without going to the dentist. While removing calculus can take significant effort, fighting the bacteria and plaque build-up that lead to calculus is simple and helpful in assisting tartar control.

Use an Electric Toothbrush

Brushing your teeth at least twice daily is likely the most commonly known way to take care of your teeth. While brushing with a standard soft-bristled brush does an adequate job of cleaning your teeth, the use of electric toothbrushes has shown to better reduce the occurrence of plaque build-up on teeth. 

We recommend supporting your brushing efforts with anticavity whitening toothpastes like Oral Wellness fluoride toothpaste from Twice. Our formulas also strengthen enamel and provide sensitivity relief with powerful but natural ingredients like antioxidant rich vitamins and aloe vera to soothe gums and provide a whole new level of oral wellness!

Baking Soda 

Whether being used as part of a homemade cleaning solution, for controlling refrigerator odors or unclogging drains, baking soda has been a household staple for years. In the same way that baking soda’s mild abrasiveness allows it to remove grime and build-up from household surfaces, it can also be effective to scrub build-up from tooth enamel. To use this method, create a paste consisting of water, baking soda, and a pinch of salt. Then, simply brush your teeth, using the mixture. Note that this method does not replace brushing twice a day with a cleaning toothpaste.

Cupboard Finds  

There are tons of easy-to-find foods and spices that can be used to help fight off the bacteria and plaque that build up to cause calculus, many of which you may already have in your kitchen cupboard. 

Here are a few easy natural remedies to try:

  • Sesame Seeds: These small seeds can be used as a simple tool to help remove plaque buildup. To use this method, place a small handful of seeds into your mouth and chew several times, without swallowing. While still holding the seeds in your mouth, brush with a dry toothbrush. Finally, rinse the seeds from your mouth. Sesame seeds are a natural way to gently scrub the plaque from your teeth. 
  • Figs: Many foods can assist in fighting calculus. Eating figs in particular, will engage your salivary glands, which reduces the accumulation of tartar. Try eating several figs all at the same time, taking your time during chewing and allowing the figs to come in contact with as much of your gums and teeth as possible.
  • Orange Peel: Not only are oranges delicious and their peels helpful for deodorizing your garbage disposal, but those peels can also help break down any microorganisms clinging to the enamel of your teeth. Two options for this method are to make a paste of the peel and apply it to troublesome areas and rinsing after a few moments, or you have the option to rub the peel directly over your gums and teeth. The vitamin C in oranges will help remove your unwanted build-up.
  • Cheese: In addition to figs and seeds, snacking on aged cheeses like swiss and cheddar can help neutralize the acids in your mouth after mealtimes. The calcium in cheese, and the calcium and phosphates in milk and other dairy products, help put back minerals your teeth might have lost due to other foods. They also help rebuild tooth enamel. So the next time you are on the fence about following dinner with a charcuterie, we say go for it!
  • Ground Cloves: Clove has been used to relieve tooth pain for centuries, and due to its common use in cooking, it is still easy to locate and purchase. We recommend buying your cloves ground and ready to use, but you can also use a food processor. The clove oil has natural bacteria fighting properties that will help ward off plaque. Apply by creating a paste with water, applying it directly to the teeth, and leaving it on for a few moments before rinsing thoroughly. 
  • Vinegar: The natural method of gargling vinegar is a safe and effective way to remove plaque, though not always a first choice due to its unpleasant taste. If you are up for the tastebud challenge, combine a few tablespoons of vinegar, a tablespoon of salt, and half a glass of water and gargle for at least 30 seconds. Repeat every few days for best results.
  • Spicy Foods: Not everyone is a fan of spicy foods, and plaque tends to agree. This is because of the saliva produced in your mouth while eating foods high in spice. Saliva is your body’s natural defense against build-up as it cleanses your mouth and teeth of unwelcome substances. So increase your spice and decrease your chances of plaque build-up.

Make a Vitamin Paste 

If you want to take your orange peel efforts one step further, try creating a super paste of fruits heavy in Vitamin C. Like the oranges, other vitamin rich foods like strawberries and tomatoes can be mixed to create a paste to apply this to your build up troublespots. Allow the paste to sit for at rest five minutes before rinsing. 

Rinsing with Mouthwash 

One well-known way to control build-up on your teeth is to rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash. The rinse will kill the bacteria which causes plaque and leave you with cleaner, healthier teeth. Build the use of mouthwash into your daily brushing routine to help keep your teeth healthy everyday. 

Flossing Regularly

Brushing and flossing should go literally hand-in-hand as part of your oral routine, but it is not uncommon for people to brush several times a day, while disregarding flossing all together. Toothbrushes may be designed to clean between and around your teeth and gums, but there are small spaces throughout your mouth that can only be reached with floss. If food becomes trapped in these spaces, build-up is likely to occur. So floss away the decay and make it part of your brushing ritual. 

Refrain from Smoking 

Another way to prevent plaque build-up in your mouth is to refrain from smoking. Unlike the saliva stimulating properties of spicy foods, the chemicals in tobacco have been known to reduce saliva production, which gives oral bacteria free reign to stick to your teeth and gum line, leading to plaque and possible calculus growth. 

Avoid Sugary Foods 

The bacteria contained by plaque attracts sugar and is a welcome sign to set-up camp on your teeth. For this reason, we suggest limiting your sugar intake. If you do eat sugary foods (because who can resist a sweet treat every once in a while), make sure to brush after with an anticavity toothpaste to give your teeth a fresh start. 

One easy way to avoid sugar and help prevent plaque is to replace your sugary drinks with water. Not only does this reduce your sugar intake, but water has obvious cleansing properties that will help wash away unwanted substances from your mouth with every drink.

In Closing 

Unfortunately, calculus build-up is an issue that cannot be removed with at-home intervention alone. In order to completely alleviate tartar build-up, a visit with a dental professional will be necessary. 

Shop Twice Toothpaste

Thankfully, prevention is possible! If you take the steps above to keep plaque at bay, you can avoid a costly and uncomfortable office treatment. Good luck!

This page was written or reviewed for accuracy by the Twice Team. Learn more about us.