Are your teeth looking a bit dingy lately? It could be due to black tartar.
A sticky buildup of plaque can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. But it can also develop into tartar, a hardened substance tough to remove. While tartar, also known as calculus, typically has a yellowish or clear color, it sometimes can give your teeth a dingy or black hue. If that’s the case, you have what’s known as black tartar.
Black tartar may sound a bit scary. But don’t be alarmed! It’s easy to treat with good at-home oral hygiene practices and regular dental checkups. First, let’s understand why black tartar happens and what you can do about it.
What causes black tartar?
Anytime you eat or drink, the saliva in your mouth combines with bacteria and food particles to create a layer of plaque. In particular, the sugar in sweets and starchy foods accelerates the development of plaque. As plaque continues to grow, it will likely turn into hardened tartar, and that layer of tartar can become black.
Now, that doesn’t mean you should stop eating and drinking! Brushing after meals and cleaning your teeth daily can remove most of the plaque so that it doesn’t progress to tartar.
But if the tartar builds up, it can change from a colorless substance on your teeth into a darkened or black color. The black color is probably due to the following:
Smoking. Cigarettes discolor teeth. But tobacco can stain the tartar on your teeth, too.
Dark-colored liquids. Your morning coffee or tea is a great way to start the day. But those liquids can stain the teeth. The same goes for wine.
Gum damage. Tartar can damage your gums. When blood from the damaged gums mixes with tartar, the tooth becomes darkened.
In addition to the dark stain, black tartar may also cause bad breath, loose teeth, and bleeding, sensitive gums. Excess tartar is a significant factor in tooth decay and gum disease. Tartar around the gum line can irritate your gums and lead to gingivitis, an early stage of gum disease. Without treatment, gingivitis can lead to periodontitis, the most severe form of gum disease. Don’t let it get to that point!
How to treat black tartar
If you see black tartar, you may be tempted to remove it yourself with a plaque scraper you can purchase at a store or online. That’s not a good idea! A deep cleaning by your dentist is the best method to banish tartar.
Deep cleaning has two phases: scaling and root planing. During tooth scaling, the dentist uses special instruments to remove the tartar. Root planing involves cleaning out the tartar from below the gum line and scraping off tartar along the roots of the tooth. The roots are then smoothed out. A deep cleaning may take more than one visit, but it’s the only sure way to completely clear away an excessive buildup of tartar.
Preventing black tartar starts with good oral hygiene. Take care of your gums and teeth by:
Brushing twice daily. Brush your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes. For extra tartar-busting power, use tartar-control toothpaste with fluoride. If you’re prone to tartar, brush after every meal.
Flossing daily. Food particles and bacteria can get trapped between your teeth. Flossing once a day dislodges those harmful substances. You can use regular floss, a water flosser, or a dental pick.
Cutting down on sugary snacks and beverages. The sugar in those foods promotes the growth of bacteria, which leads to plaque and tartar.
Seeing your dentist regularly. Those twice-yearly checkups and cleanings not only serve to remove plaque and tartar thoroughly, but the visits also give your dentist a chance to spot decay or other problems. The earlier you get treatment, the better it is for your oral health!
Time to visit your dentist
Schedule an appointment at Espire’s Colorado Springs location today! Our highly trained dentists and hygienists can thoroughly clean your teeth and prevent tartar buildup. Don’t live near our Colorado Springs office? Find one of our other locations near you.
8610 Explorer Drive #315
Colorado Springs, CO 80920