Tartar is a little-known substance that grows and coats our teeth that the lovely dental hygienists get to pick and prod at, at a routine exam! What exactly is tartar and does it lead to tooth decay?
Is tartar the result of being lazy and having harmful dental health habits, or is it a result of genetics? In today’s post, we’ll take a glimpse into what we know about tartar — the facts and the myths that surround this unattractive and discoloring substance!
Tartar: The Facts
Even the best at-home dental attention doesn’t completely rid your mouth of harmful bacteria. A combination of food debris with proteins shapes an adhesive film called plaque. This substance loves to coat and bathe your teeth, get under the gum line, and stick to filling and other dental work including dentures and dental crowns. Brushing twice a day and flossing at least once is beneficial, but nothing beats the bi-annual teeth cleaning at the dentist’s office.
The problem with plaque is if it isn’t removed regularly, this bacteria harboring gunk, leads to gum disease and tooth decay. The most substantial concern arises when the plaque sticks around and sets up camp on your teeth. This plaque buildup hardens and becomes the substance known as tartar. Because of its hard nature, tartar needs to be removed at the dentist.
Did you know that only up to 12,000 years ago was when we first observed gum disease and tooth decay? It seems like a long timespan, but before that it was rare for the now common dental health issues, to surface! Your next question may be “what were they doing differently?” The truth is, it may lie within the diet. We’ve discussed the best foods for your teeth, so we’ll briefly touch on the best dental diet. Up until 10,000 to 12,000 years ago, people had plaque buildup and the cavity-causing bacteria called S. mutans, but it wasn’t causing tooth decay. It was only around the time that people began farming, that tooth decay highly prevalent in people’s dental health.
This concept suggests that with the introduction of farming came starchy carbohydrates such as potatoes, corn, and grain. These foods quickly digest into sugars, and if left in and on the teeth, can erode and cause cavities.
Tartar is a calcified plaque and is hard like a barnacle, and in the dental world is referred as “calculus.” Is tartar a result of lazy habits and poor dental health, or could it be related to a vitamin deficiency?
We’re now going to leave you hanging, and continue this discussion in part two!
In today’s post, we’ve covered what tartar is and opened up the discussion on how tooth decay may be related to diet. In our next post, we’ll look at an approach to take including information on K2 supplementation!